SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — With kids aged 5-11 now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, companies and clinics are beginning to roll out plans to get children vaccinated. In the New York area, Kinney Drugs has devised a strategy to not only get kids in the age group vaccinated, but to do so in a way that is as least stressful as possible.
Kinney Drugs has 96 drugstores and retail venues across the state of New York and Vermont. Once the Pfizer Coronavirus vaccine was approved by the CDC for kids aged 5-11, Kinney began rolling out their plan.
John Marraffa, the president of Kinney Drugs, supervises all 96 stores and helped create Kinney’s kids vaccine plan. Marraffa said that, overall, the drugstores plan is to make kids as calm as possible during vaccine visits.
“The goal was to create an environment where a kid felt comfortable, and not just the kid but the parent,” Marraffa said.
Kinney created a comfortable and easy environment for both children and their parents. Parents are able to sign their kids up for up to three appointments at the same time. This avoids the frustration of parents having to take multiple trips to get their various children vaccinated. The length of appointments have also been extended from previous adult time frames to allow 5-11 year olds time to adjust and feel comfortable before the shot. To schedule an appointment with Kinney, visit the COVID-19 vaccine information tab on their website.
Pre-and-post shot activities and treats will also available and provided to those who receive the vaccine to try and lower the stress of the visit. Marraffa said that although some kids won’t need the add-ons, it is important to provide them to younger and more shy people.
“There are some kids that don’t really care. There are 9 year olds, 10 year olds, 11 year olds that are going to walk into anywhere very confidently to get a vaccine,” Marraffa said. “But what we have to think about is the 5 year old population and the somewhat shy 5-11 age group that could potentially be nervous.”
Marraffa also said that making the vaccine visits more comfortable for kids and the appointments easier to schedule could help increase participation.
Kinney is closely working with local government and local schools to run vaccination clinics. Kinney works with schools to set up vaccination clinics during after-school hours so parents can be present. Marraffa said the choice to host clinics at schools falls in line with the main goals of the plan.
““Kids are comfortable at school, they’re in school five days a week. They know what to expect,” Marraffa said. “They know what things make them feel at ease when they are at school, when they see their teachers or their principals.”
Kinney has already begun running clinics. The drugstore had its first school-based session in the Marcellus School District Wednesday and plans to continue to work with local schools to create more clinics in the future.
To find out more about the COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 5-11, check Onondaga County’s COVID-19 website.