- The CDC on Saturday recommended COVID-19 vaccines for kids as young as 6 months old.
- The move was the final procedural hurdle the vaccines had to clear, before they can be used.
- The White House has said vaccinations could begin “as early as the week of June 20th.”
Baby COVID-19 shots are here.
On Saturday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky gave the final recommendation for COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna to be administered to kids as young as 6 months old, a move that’s been several months in the making.
“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can.”
She added, “I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”
The CDC director’s seal of approval was the final hurdle these vaccines had to clear before shots for little kids can begin. Earlier Saturday, US health advisers on Saturday recommended COVID-19 vaccines for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers — the last group without the shots.
The White House has been preparing for these vaccinations to start the week of June 20, at pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and vaccine clinics across the country.
Earlier this week, FDA scientists and independent experts reviewed the shots, making sure the benefits of administering them to young children outweighed any potential risks.
Dr. Jay Portnoy from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, one of the members of the FDA’s independent advisory committee, said many parents and clinicians have been “waiting eagerly” for a vaccine to protect their youngsters. While they’ve waited, COVID-19 deaths and hospitalization rates for children under the age of five have soared over those school-age kids, who have already been vaccine eligible for more than seven months.
“I know that the death rate from COVID in children may not be extremely high, but it’s absolutely terrifying to parents to have their child be sick, have to go to the hospital, or even go to the emergency room or their primary care doctor because they are sick and having trouble breathing,” Portnoy said during the FDA meeting. “For preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and emergency visits, this vaccine is very effective. It’s also very safe to use.”
Portnoy said he knows some parents don’t want to vaccinate their young children, and “they can choose simply to not get the vaccine,” he said. “But there are so many parents who are absolutely desperate to get this vaccine, and I think we owe it to them to give them a choice to have the vaccine if they want to.”
The vaccines from the two drugmakers aren’t exactly the same. Moderna’s is a two-shot series, with the second dose administered one month after the first, while Pfizer’s is a three-dose course, spread out over a period of almost three months.
Some experts have expressed a preference for Moderna’s vaccine, as it appears to afford protection sooner (in about 40 days), but Pfizer’s may win some parents over with its lower incidence of side effects.
Either way, experts generally agree that both vaccines are good options.