A health care provider places a bandage on a child.
Illustration: PGN

It’s been over a month since the updated COVID-19 vaccine rollout began, but some parents across the country are struggling to find the vaccine for their youngest children. 

As a result, a group of parent volunteers called Vaccinate Under 5 created a crowdsourced spreadsheet with locations providing the updated COVID-19 vaccine to children under 5 across most of the country. (Public Good News has not individually verified the information, but the spreadsheet is populated by parents who call providers and pharmacies to include logistical information, such as if walk-in appointments are available.)

A mother who goes by the username @Yannotyam on X (formerly Twitter) started the spreadsheet last year when the original COVID-19 vaccines were approved for children under 5. “It didn’t feel fair to have more hurdles to access when I and other parents have already been through so much—child care, work disruptions, months upon months of regulatory delays, [and] missed opportunities,” she says.

One reason why it has been harder for parents to find vaccination sites for children under 5 is the federal government’s Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. The act was amended in August 2020 to, among other provisions, authorize state-licensed pharmacies across the country to vaccinate children between the ages of 3 and 18 without liability. 

Though some states have different age minimums, overall, this means that most pharmacies only vaccinate children over 3. 

Plus, with the end of the public health emergency, insurance companies are now responsible for covering the cost of COVID-19 vaccines, resulting in coverage and billing issues. Vaccine distribution delays have also affected nationwide supplies, especially of the updated COVID-19 vaccine for younger children—which comes in a different package and dosage.

If you’re a parent looking for the updated COVID-19 vaccine for your child under 5, here’s where Vaccinate Under 5 recommends you look:

  • If your child is 3 years or older, try a pharmacy.
  • If your child is between 18 months and 3 years, try a CVS MinuteClinic.
  • If your child is under 18 months and their pediatrician doesn’t have the vaccine, check out Vaccinate Under 5’s spreadsheet or parent networks on social media.