CDC Agrees: Under-5 Shots Can Begin

Biden calls final approval of COVID vaccine for young children a relief
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 17, 2022 9:07 AM CDT
Updated Jun 18, 2022 4:00 PM CDT
FDA Authorizes COVID Shots for Kids Under 5
Syringes and colorful bandages are prepared as children from local schools prepare to get COVID-19 vaccines in Pittsfield, Mass.   (Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP, File)

(Newser) Update: "For parents all over the country, this is a day of relief and celebration," President Biden said in a statement Saturday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved COVID vaccinations for children as young as 6 months old. Director Rochelle Walensky gave the final OK after a CDC advisory committee unanimously recommended Moderna and Pfizer shots earlier in the day, Axios reports. Vaccinations can begin immediately. The child-size doses shipped Friday to every state except Florida, which hasn't placed an order, per NBC News. Our story from Friday follows:

US regulators on Friday authorized the first COVID-19 shots for infants and preschoolers, paving the way for vaccinations to begin next week. The Food and Drug Administration's action follows its advisory panel's unanimous recommendation for the shots from Moderna and Pfizer. That means US kids under 5—roughly 18 million youngsters—are eligible for the shots, about 1 1/2 years after the vaccines first became available in the US for adults, who have been hit the hardest during the pandemic, the AP reports. The FDA also authorized Moderna's vaccine for school-aged children and teens. Pfizer's shots had previously been the only ones available for those ages.

There's one step left: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends how to use vaccines and its vaccine advisers are set to discuss the shots for the youngest kids Friday and vote on Saturday. A final signoff would come from CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. At a Senate hearing Thursday, Walensky said her staff was working over the Juneteenth federal holiday weekend "because we understand the urgency of this for American parents." She said pediatric deaths from COVID-19 have been higher than what is generally seen from the flu each year, "so I actually think we need to protect young children, as well as protect everyone with the vaccine and especially protect elders."

For weeks, the Biden administration has been preparing to roll out the vaccines. States, tribes, community health centers, and pharmacies preordered millions of doses. The FDA's emergency use authorization allows manufacturers to begin shipping vaccines across the country. Vaccinations could begin as early as Monday or Tuesday. The two brands use the same technology but there are differences. Pfizer's vaccine for kids younger than 5 is one-tenth of the adult dose. Three shots are needed: the first two given three weeks apart and the last at least two months later. Moderna's is two shots, each a quarter of its adult dose, given about four weeks apart for kids under 6. The vaccines are for children as young as 6 months.

(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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