PITTSFIELD — Last Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that children as young as 6 months receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC said pediatric vaccinations had started and would roll out at pediatric practices, pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, local health departments and clinics.
But finding a place to get vaccinated is not that easy in the Berkshires, because centralized websites that have been go-to resources during the pandemic so far offer no or few options.
Laura Kittross with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission said the best option for parents of young children is to contact their pediatricians. “The shipments should start this week. I assume that some doctors have pre-ordered it and should start seeing shipments soon, if they’re not already seen,” she said.
Kittross said that vaccination is as crucial as ever. “It’s important that everybody vaccinates their children. I think that we’re not going to see a real end to this pandemic until people do,” she said.
Northern Berkshires Pediatrics in North Adams has started vaccinating children under 5. However, the practice is only serving existing patients.
Theresa Jones, with Dr. Michael A. Fabrizio’s pediatric practice in Pittsfield, confirmed Thursday that the office has received vaccines for the new age group.
”It came in yesterday afternoon and now we’re getting ready to set up so we can start getting the little ones vaccinated,” she said.
Getvaccinatedberkshires.org, the main website for information on vaccination in the Berkshires, has been phased out. The site said it had not been updated since March.
Vaxfindermass.gov includes only pharmacies. At first, it seems to people using the service like there are many options. But the vaccine finder does not allow users to filter out places that only vaccinate children 5 and older.
The Berkshire Health Systems hotline said that the institution had not received the go-ahead from Berkshire Medical Center to give out vaccines for those newly eligible in the youngest age group. And doses for young children would take a week or two more to arrive.
That leaves pharmacies in the Berkshires as options for parents of young children.
A spot check found that the North Adams Walgreens has availability starting Friday. The pharmacy will only vaccinate children 3 and older.
The CHP network, which has nine locations through the Berkshires, ordered vaccines earlier this week but does not have them yet. The network encourages parents or guardians seeking vaccines for young children to call in so they can be put on a call-back list. A vaccination clinic is scheduled for July 12.
The previous group to become eligible for vaccines, in November, were children between the ages of 5 and 11. So far, 78 percent of people age 5 and over in Berkshire County have been vaccinated, according to The New York Times COVID-19 tracker.
An average of 31 cases per day are reported in Berkshire County, the tracker says, a 30-percent decrease from the average two weeks ago.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 1 in 5 residents of the county has been infected with COVID-19.