As COVID-19 cases surge in Minnesota, hundreds of children took their first step at protecting themselves, and others, against the virus at a vaccine clinic Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Hylander Center in Columbia Heights.

Children ages 5-11 received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine at the clinic, which was hosted by Anoka County Public Health and Columbia Heights Public Schools. The clinic was opened to all who signed up, not just Anoka County residents. Walk-ins were taken.

Angela Olson took her sons Parker and Riker to the vaccine clinic. As a nurse, she said she understands the importance of getting the shot.

“I think we need to trust the science and trust that the doctors have done their due diligence in making it safe for all of us and our children to get it,” she said. “We need to get it for those who can’t so they can get back out in the community as well.”

Parker said he feels that by getting the COVID-19 vaccine he’ll be able to protect his friends and family — especially his great-grandmother.

Both Parker and Riker said they’re excited to wear their face masks less, once they’re fully vaccinated.

“I’d like to take this thing off,” Riker said, pointing at his mask. “Since we started wearing masks, they stopped having soccer in the gym.”

Riker Olson said he’s hoping soccer and other sports can be played in the gym again year-round.

Al Hage took his granddaughter Charley Hage, 9, to get her first dose of the pediatric vaccine.

“I’m scared it’s going to hurt,” Charley said, before getting the vaccine, but she said it would “help protect me from getting COVID.”

Al Hage said he brought his granddaughter to the clinic because “it’s important for us to help do our little part and stop the spread by getting [Charley] vaccinated.”

After kids had their shots they received balloons, stickers and gifts from Child and Teen Checkup. They could also shop a Scholastic book fair.

“Our aim was to make it fun for kids,” Superintendent Zena Stenvik said.

Children who attended the vaccine clinic will receive their second doses Dec. 11.

According to Minnesota Department of Health data updated Nov. 14, a total of 219,658 Anoka County residents have received at lease one dose of the vaccine, and 207,029 Anoka County residents have received their full vaccine series. For Anoka County children ages 5-11, nearly 2,000 have received at least received one dose.

With 62.7% of its total population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Nov. 14, Anoka County still has the lowest vaccination rate of any county in the seven county metro area.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the he Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5-11 on Oct. 29. The vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5-11.

The pediatric vaccine is administered in two doses, three weeks apart, but it’s a lower dose than given to individuals 12 and older.

Pfizer-BioNTech is the only company that has vaccines approved for ages 5 and older in the U.S.

To learn more about the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s website at or the Centers for Disease Control’s website at

To find and sign up for an Anoka County COVID-19 vaccine clinic near you, visit


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