A vaccine clinic for children under age 5 was completely booked just hours after online registration opened Wednesday, but parents and caregivers have other options as they seek COVID-19 vaccinations for their youngest children.

University Health filled all 75 slots for its Saturday’s vaccine clinic at the Robert B. Green campus on Wednesday, following the long-awaited approval of vaccines for young children as young as 6 months.

The surge of interest comes on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) authorization of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for the youngest age group — children ages 6 months to 5 years of age.  

The Metropolitan Health District on Wednesday also began offering the vaccine to children of all ages at its COVID-19 vaccine pop-up clinics across San Antonio. Parents and guardians who take their children to get vaccinated at a Metro Health clinic are eligible to receive a $100 H-E-B gift card after the final dose, while supplies last.

Many pediatrician offices are also gearing up to offer shots to their littlest patients.

The Southwest Children’s Center, a longstanding local pediatrician group, on Wednesday began scheduling appointments for existing patients for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

But not all pediatricians will be administering COVID-19 vaccines. Cevey Pediatrics, for example, is encouraging families to visit Walgreens or Allergy and Asthma Texas Health, which is offering vaccines for all ages for those with insurance.

For now, this is University Health’s only planned vaccine drive for children under 5. A spokeswoman said the hospital needed to know when it will receive more vaccines before another clinic can be planned.

University Health’s clinic will only offer the Pfizer vaccine, which is a three-dose series. After children receive the first vaccine, parents will schedule an appointment for the second dose three weeks later, with the final dose administered eight weeks after the second. Children will be observed for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine, just as adults are.

The Moderna vaccine, which also received FDA and CDC approval, is a two-course series.

“This is an important opportunity to provide younger children the protection that COVID-19 vaccines offer against severe illness and hospitalization,” said Dr. Mandie Tibball Svatek, University Health pediatric hospitalist and UT Health San Antonio associate professor of pediatrics.

The latest vaccine rollout comes as some public health officials have voiced concern about low vaccination rates among children over 5. In Bexar County, only a quarter of eligible children have gotten vaccinated since November.

Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.