Youngest Patients Begin Receiving Covid-19 Vaccine Through the Albany Med Health System

The Albany Med Health System distributed the first doses of Covid-19 vaccine today to children ages 6 months to 5 years—the youngest now eligible after authorization by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The vaccines were administered to patients of the Pediatric Group on the Albany Medical Center campus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved on June 17 both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for children in this age group.

“Young children are at the same risk of contracting Covid as any other age group, so this news is especially important for protecting kids from the virus,” said Danielle Wales, MD, associate professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Albany Medical Center.

“Our office is thrilled to begin offering the Covid-19 vaccination to our youngest patients,” said Rebecca Butterfield, MD, division chief of General Pediatrics at Albany Med. “Although Covid-19 infection in young children is frequently mild, it is not always so and can lead to hospitalization and even death.”

Hospitalizations for children under the age of 5 were five times higher nationally during the peak of the Omicron variant in January 2022, compared with the Delta variant peak in September 2021.

“Vaccination against Covid-19 infection can greatly reduce the risk of serious illness,” Dr. Butterfield said.

Dr. Wales said the vaccine also is recommended for children who have already had Covid-19.

“Immunity from naturally contracting Covid tends to be short-lived,” Dr. Wales said. “Getting the vaccine can offer protection against future variants.” She added that due to recommended times in between dosages, it’s important to not delay in starting vaccination for young children.

Hospitals and physician groups within the Albany Med Health System include those of Albany Medical Center, Columbia Memorial Health, Glens Falls Hospital, and Saratoga Hospital. As some System pediatric offices are already scheduling vaccine appointments and administering the vaccine to their current patients, both Dr. Butterfield and Dr. Wales emphasized that parents and caregivers with questions should reach out to their child’s pediatric office about availability.

Points to Know:

  • Two doses of the Moderna vaccine are recommended for children 6 months to 5 years old. The CDC recommends that the doses are given 4-8 weeks apart.
  • Three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are recommended for children 6 months to 4 years old. The first and second doses should be given three to eight weeks apart and the second and third doses should be separated by at least eight weeks.
  • Two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are recommended for children 5 and older. These doses should be given three to eight weeks apart.
  • Children will receive a smaller dose of Covid-19 vaccine than teens and adults that is the right amount for their age.

Photo Caption: A young patient of the Albany Medical Center Pediatric Group, located at 391 Myrtle Avenue in Albany, received the first Covid-19 vaccine given to a child under the age of 5 at the office. The dose was administered on June 21, 2022 following the CDC endorsement of vaccines for young children.

Albany Med, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 766-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists, and other healthcare professionals. It also includes the region’s largest physicians’ practice with 500 doctors. Albany Med works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. Albany Med is a member of the Albany Med Health System, which also includes Columbia Memorial Health, Glens Falls Hospital, Saratoga Hospital, and The VNA of Albany. The region’s largest locally governed health system, it has 1,520 beds, more than 800 physicians, and 125 outpatient locations throughout the Capital Region.