The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory panel officially recommended that all children 6 months through 5 years of age should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H. endorsed the panel's decision, expanding eligibility to nearly 18 million children. Parents and caregivers can now get their children 6 months through 5 years of age vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19. We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can," Walensky said.
According to the CDC, the distribution of pediatric vaccinations for these younger children has started across the country. The vaccines will be available at thousands of pediatric practices, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, local health departments, clinics, and other locations this week.
There have been more than 2 million confirmed cases of COVID, more than 20,000 hospitalizations, and more than 200 deaths among children 4 years and under, according to CDC data. COVID-19 is the fifth most common cause of death among children in this age range.
The Pfizer vaccine would be given in three shots, each containing one-tenth of an adult dose. The first two doses would be administered three weeks apart and the final shot at least three months later.
The Moderna vaccine, which currently is only available for adults, is also likely to be approved, county health officials said, for two more age groups: children between 6 and 17 years of age and those under 6. The Moderna shot for kids under 6 is a two-dose series, given about four weeks apart. Each dose contains one-quarter of the adult dose.
Health Officials say that shots designated for children 6 and under have a smaller needle.
"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,” Walensky said.