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BENTON TOWNSHIP — Berrien County children under the age of 5 will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Berrien County Health Department will offer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for those six months to 5 years old, starting Wednesday by appointment only.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for this age group earlier this month, a news release stated.

For this age group, the Pfizer series is three doses, the first two given three weeks apart and the third administered at least eight weeks after the second dose. Vaccines can prevent severe outcomes of COVID-19 infection, the release stated. Children make up a smaller number of COVID-19 cases but can still experience severe or fatal disease.

“Parents of young children have been waiting a long time for this announcement,” Health Officer Guy Miller said in a prepared release. “The expansion of vaccine availability to some of our youngest community members is a great advancement in the fight against COVID-19.”

Berrien County Health Department hosts vaccine clinics for ages 12 and older every Tuesday in Benton Harbor and every Thursday in Niles. These clinics run 3-6 p.m. at BCHD’s Benton Harbor office on 2149 E. Napier Ave., and 3-5 p.m. at its Niles office on 1205 Front St. All three COVID-19 vaccines – Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer – are available at these clinics.

A variety of other local health care organizations, such as InterCare Community Health Network and Spectrum Health Lakeland, also provide vaccine clinics in Berrien County.

“Vaccinations and boosters are proven to be the most effective way to protect yourself and others from getting sick. We strongly encourage parents to connect with their primary care provider or the health department to learn more and get their children vaccinated,” Miller said in a statement.

Those interested in scheduling an appointment can do so online at bchdmi.org/covid19 or call 800-815-5485.

Contact: jknot@TheHP.com, 932-0360, Twitter: @knotjuliana