The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave thumbs up Saturday for COVID-19 vaccines for preschoolers, toddlers, and infants down to six months old. This followed the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the doses on Friday.
Final approval by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky means shots will begin within days. In a statement released Saturday, Walensky said “millions of parents and caregivers” are eager to have their small children immunized, and now it’s possible.
Advisors unanimously approved the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. President Joe Biden quickly announced that it was a day for “relief and celebration” for parents across the nation.
Vaccines will be delivered to health care providers almost immediately, and the CDC says roughly 17 million more American kids are eligible for the doses. Whether a majority of these children will get immunized remains to be seen.
Under a third of eligible children ages 5-11 have received coronavirus vaccines since the doses became available in November.
A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor last month showed only 18% of parents of children younger than five say they will immediately get their child vaccinated. Nearly 40% of parents of children in this age range will either “definitely not” or only do so if required.
Over half of parents of children four and younger say they do not have enough information about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
Dr. Sarah Long of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia said hesitant parents have a “misplaced concern.” She urges them to have their small children immunized “to save their lives.”
Stanford University pediatrician Dr. Grace Lee also strongly advocated the vaccines, saying they can “clearly prevent hospitalizations and death.” Lee said it is now possible to “prevent long-term complications from infections that we don’t yet understand well.”
The CDC reports that, as of May 28, over 400 children four years old and under have died from COVID-19.
The Juneteenth holiday may slow the initial dispersal of vaccines for the smallest children, but they are expected to begin being administered early in the week. Experts believe the pace of immunizations, however, will be much slower than previous rollouts.