Houston Methodist adapts to provide services as children ages 5-11 are authorized for COVID-19 vaccination

The hospital system’s Willowbrook campus has brought in several changes to ensure children under 12 have an optimal vaccination experience.  (Courtesy Houston Methodist)
The hospital system’s Willowbrook campus has brought in several changes to ensure children under 12 have an optimal vaccination experience. (Courtesy Houston Methodist)

The hospital system’s Willowbrook campus has brought in several changes to ensure children under 12 have an optimal vaccination experience. (Courtesy Houston Methodist)

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the clinic's hours

With the FDA’s emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children under ages 5-11 on Oct. 29, hospitals had to adapt for the youngest demographic eligible for doses.


Houston Methodist made changes across all of its campuses, including its Willowbrook location, according to Clinic Administrator Andy Cole.

“It’s all about making sure we have a safe process,” Cole said.

The Willowbrook campus separated its children’s vaccination process from its vaccinations for those age 12 and up, Cole said. Children getting vaccinated will have orange tickets and will have their locations marked out with streamers and balloons.



To help children who are nervous about the shot, the hospital is providing them with coloring books, toys and art supplies, and screens will play Disney movies after their shots.

Helping children get vaccinated presented new questions for Houston Methodist’s staff, Cole said. The hospital is not a pediatric care facility and had to adapt to different changes.

“It’s been fun having some kids around, it just changes the dynamic a little bit,” Cole said.

Cole said Houston Methodist did not hire any new staff specifically for children, but nurses were trained in administering vaccines for young patients. In the rare case of an adverse reaction, Houston Methodist has also implemented a system to alert responders that the case involves a younger patient. Cole said Houston Methodist Willowbrook has not seen any cases of adverse reactions in pediatric residents.

According to the FDA's emergency use authorization announcement, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 is administered as a two-dose primary series, spaced 3 weeks apart. The shots contain a lower dose compared to shots for those older than age 12.

To help parents who are looking to get their children vaccinated, Houston Methodist has extended hours to help those balancing work and school. The hospital system also sends text message blasts to patients reminding them the vaccine is available, Cole said.

The hospital system also conducts outreach clinics at some of its downtown locations to help communities of color gain trust in vaccination.

One parent who took advantage of the Willowbrook clinic for her daughter was Nicole Eby, who has worked at Houston Methodist for 10 years. Eby initially tried to get her 5-year-old daughter Charlee a shot at other pediatric facilities when the vaccine was first available, but could not find a time slot.

“I couldn’t get her in anywhere, and so I tried Willowbrook, and they were immediately able to get us in,” Eby said.

Eby said she was thankful Charlee was able to get vaccinated and hopes to have her 3-year-old son get the shot as soon as the doses are officially approved for his age group.

As of Nov. 17, Houston Methodist Willowbrook has recorded 99,091 doses administered and anticipates passing the 100,000 mark later in the month, a Houston Methodist spokesperson said. Across all campuses, 991,984 doses have been administered as of Nov. 17, according to the hospital system's website.

“When we first started I don’t think anyone thought we would be doing it for this long,” Cole said. “100,000 shots is a lot of shots. ... We’re just trying to make the biggest impact we can.”

Houston Methodist Willowbrook accepts scheduled appointments through its website as well as walk-ins. The clinic’s hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and 8 a.m.-noon on Fridays. For a limited time, the clinic is open until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.




By Jishnu Nair

Reporter, North Houston Metro

Jishnu joined Community Impact Newspaper as a metro reporter in July 2021. Previously, he worked as a digital producer for a television station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and studied at Syracuse University's Newhouse School. Originally from New Jersey, Jishnu covers the North Houston metro area, including Tomball, Magnolia, Conroe and Montgomery, as well as the Woodlands and Lake Houston areas.