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June 22, 2022

In The News: Coronavirus Vaccines for Kids Under 5 Are Finally Here

The Washington Post reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory panel recommendation means pediatricians will be administering the first coronavirus vaccines to children under five in the coming days. Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were approved for use in the last age group to become eligible, children from six months to five years. As many as 19 million kids in the United States can now be vaccinated.

Doses began shipping from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday and should arrive this week for offices that placed orders in advance of approval. The administration plans to set up pop-up clinics as well at children’s museums and libraries to aid families eager to vaccinate their children. It is noted that parents should consult with their pediatrician on which shot to obtain.

Questions during the review process included whether children in this group need vaccination if previously infected. Earlier research projected that three out of every four children carry antibodies for the virus, suggesting at least one prior infection. The CDC emphasized they should still be vaccinated to protect against re-infection and clear barriers families may have employed to protect other family members or their communities.

Some parents have expressed eagerness to get their children vaccinated yet experts predict many will take a wait-and-see approach. While most children have an uneventful recovery from COVID-infection, the virus has sickened thousands of children too young to be vaccinated before now. The omicron variant has been particularly harsh on this unvaccinated group as they currently have higher rates of emergency room visits and hospitalizationsthan older children, according to CDC data.

During the CDC advisory panel meeting, it was pointed out that the disease is serious enough among young people that it should be treated as a risk similar to other diseases that kids are routinely vaccinated for. The Moderna regimen consists of two doses of 25 micrograms each given four weeks apart. For Pfizer-BioNTech, the regimen is three doses of three micrograms each with the final shot administered at least eight weeks after the second.

CDC official and PIDS member Sara Oliver says in the story that the agency does not favor one over the other and that either vaccine is better than no vaccine. Adding, “We know that we are…not good at predicting which children are going to unfortunately have severe or even potentially fatal outcomes with a [coronavirus] infection,” and vaccination is the safest way to gain broad protection against current and future variants. PIDS member Sarah Long also appears in the story.

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