Parents and caretakers of children between six months and five years old can now minimize the chances their child will get seriously ill, or die, because of COVID-19.

The Indiana Department of Health has confirmed shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine, optimized for young children, have begun arriving in the Hoosier State after last week being approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The child vaccines, similar to their adult counterparts, are manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. They’ll initially be distributed through doctor’s offices, local health departments and some hospitals and pharmacies.

A full list of vaccine sites for all age groups is available online at ourshot.in.gov, or by calling 211 in Indiana.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free. However, appointments are recommended for children under age 5 due to the limited initial supply of age-appropriate vaccines.

“We recognize that there is pent-up demand among parents eager to protect our youngest Hoosiers, but because vaccines are still arriving in Indiana for this age group, we ask for a little more patience to allow supply to catch up with demand,” said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, IDOH chief medical officer.

“As with every stage of vaccine rollout, we will see increased availability in the coming days as more doses arrive in the state.”

In Northwest Indiana, the ourshot.in.gov website shows as of Wednesday 16 sites in Lake County vaccinating children under age 5 against COVID-19, nine Porter County locations, two in LaPorte County, zero in Newton County and three in Jasper County.

In some locations, same-day and even walk-in appointments are available.

Data show more than 3.7 million Hoosiers age 5 and older, or 58.1% of Indiana's vaccine-eligible population, are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Though Indiana children ages 5-11 are the least vaccinated with just 21.4% of the 608,800 children in that age group protected against the virus.

The state health agency has said the COVID-19 vaccine, and appropriate booster doses, have been shown to increase protection from hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 and variants of the virus.

In fact, unvaccinated individuals have accounted for 66% of Indiana's 1.76 million COVID-19 infections, 94% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 78% of the state's COVID-19 deaths since the first Hoosiers were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on Jan. 18, 2021, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

Originally published on nwitimes.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.