Today, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle P. Walensky approved a committee recommendation that all children 6 months through 5 years of age should receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
This expands the shot availability to nearly 20 million additional children. Parents and guardians can get their babies shot with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, whichever is available to them, “to better protect them from COVID-19,” the CDC said.
“All children, including children who have already had COVID-19, should get vaccinated,” the agency said, adding that the Covid-19 vaccines “have undergone—and will continue to undergo—the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Parents and caregivers can play an active role in monitoring the safety of these vaccines by signing their children up for v-safe – personalized and confidential health check-ins via text messages and web surveys where they can easily share with CDC how a child feels after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The shots for the children will be available by Tuesday, as Monday is a federal holiday. Distribution of pediatric vaccinations for these younger children has started across the country, and will be available at thousands of pediatric practices, pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, local health departments, clinics, and other locations.
“Today is a day of huge relief for parents and families across America,” said President Joe Biden.
Moderna is on the record saying its vaccine is 51% effective against infection, among babies from 6 months to under age 2, and only 37% effective for those aged 2 to 5. Moderna is a two-shot regimen given four weeks apart, while Pfizer for the youngest children needs three shots, the first two given three weeks apart and the last shot given more than two months later.
Officials believe that about three quarters of American children have already had Covid. Just 30% of children between 5 and 11 have gotten vaccinated since the Pfizer shots become available for that age group in November. Parents are hesitant because of the stories they have heard about side effects. The most common effect is headache and soreness. Learn more about side effects from the CDC website.
“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” Walensky said. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can. 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.”