MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz says Minnesota will begin vaccinating children ages 5 to 11 against COVID-19 this week.

The Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday issued formal recommendations for children as young as 5 years old to start receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

Walz also announced Wednesday a new state website to assist families in scheduling a vaccination and answer questions about the shot.

“Now that the vaccine is approved for kids ages 5-11, Minnesota is ready to administer these shots quickly, efficiently, and equitably,” Walz said in a statement. “I encourage families to make a plan to get their child vaccinated and help keep them safe.”

Walz’s office said more than 1,100 providers in Minnesota are prepared to begin administering vaccines to younger children. A community vaccination site at the Mall of America will triple its capacity to allow more children to get vaccinated.

Also, several parents said their county or school is planning a vaccine clinic.

WCCO’s Kate Raddatz reported Walgreens and Walmart were already accepting appointments to for kids 5 and up Tuesday night. Hy-Vee is also administering to that age group.

Appointments filled quickly. MDH Comissioner Jan Malcolm said the first wave of 250,000 doses are not yet fully on the ground and more appointments will open up.

“We’re asking for Minnesotans’ patience,” Malcolm said.

Kids without underlying health conditions are at low risk for death and serious illness, but health experts say they do get and spread the disease. Experts also say children can have severe outcomes, including MIS-C.

According to the governor, 94% of Minnesota’s population is now eligible for the vaccine.

“I want to see our kids back to having that true normal,” Ken Walls, from Stillwater, said.

Walls was up early Wednesday finding a vaccine appointment online for his 7-year-old.  His son told him he wants the shot for a shot at a more normal school experience and life.

“He usually is a pretty slow morning kid. All of sudden, just a big fist pump and ‘Yes’ from under the covers,” he said.

Minnesota has administered more than 7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, including about 449,000 booster shots. Nearly 74% of the state’s 12+ population has received at least one dose.

Since the start of the pandemic, the state has seen 805,015 COVID-19 infections, and 8,718 deaths have been attributed to the virus.

How To Make An Appointment

Appointments can be made at Walmart with an account.

CVS and Walgreens are also accepting appointments.

At M Health Fairview starting Monday, sign into MyChart, call 612-336-2690, or call a local Fairview pharmacy to make an appointment.

At Mayo Clinic starting at noon Wednesday, parents and legal guardians can schedule appointments for their 5- to 11-year-old using their Patient Online Services caregiver account or the Mayo Clinic App. If they don’t have a caregiver account for their 5- to 11-year-old and would like to set up one, they can call Mayo Clinic Customer Assistance at 877-858-0398.

Kate Raddatz