NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – US health officials on Saturday announced COVID-19 vaccines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
The injections will be available next week, expanding the vaccination campaign for babies from six months of age.
Advisors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended vaccines against COVID-19 for young children and the final authorization was given by CDC Director Dr. Delivered Hours Later by Rochelle Valensky.
“We know that millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision they can do so,” Valensky said in a statement.
Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already given the vaccines its approval, it is the CDC that decides who should receive them.
According to the CDC’s advisory panel, vaccines protect young children from hospitalization, death and potential long-term complications that are not yet clearly understood.
The government is preparing to launch a vaccine expansion with millions of doses ordered for distribution to doctors, hospitals and health clinics across the country.
About 18 million children are eligible to receive the dose, but it remains to be seen how many actually get vaccinated. Less than a third of children between the ages of five and 11 have received the shot since vaccination began for them in November last year.
Here are some facts you need to know:
What Vaccines Are Available?
Two brands, Pfizer and Moderna, received approval from the FDA on Friday and the CDC on Saturday. Vaccines use the same technology, but are offered in different dosage sizes and numbers of shots for young children.
The Pfizer vaccine is for children aged six months to four years. The dosage is one-tenth that of an adult, and three injections are required. The first two are administered with an interval of three weeks, and the last at least two months later.
Moderna is for two injections, each one quarter of the adult dose, given four weeks apart for children six months to five years old. The FDA has also approved a third dose at least one month after the second dose for children with immune problems, which make them more vulnerable to serious illness.
How well do they work?
In studies, vaccinated children developed levels of antibodies against the virus that were as strong as those seen in young adults, suggesting that child-sized doses protect against coronavirus infection.
However, its effectiveness is difficult to determine precisely, especially when it comes to the vaccine developed by Pfizer.
Two doses of Moderna appeared to be only 40% effective in preventing even the mildest infections at a time when the Omicron variant was causing most of the COVID-19 illnesses. Pfizer presented data from the study, which said the company saw 80% effectiveness with three of its injections. But Pfizer’s data was so limited — and based on such a small number of cases — that experts and federal officials do not believe a reliable estimate yet exists.
Should I vaccinate my child?
Yes, according to CDC advisors. Although COVID-19 has been most dangerous for older adults, younger people, including children, can also become seriously ill.
Hospitalizations arose during the Omicron-powered boom. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 480 children under the age of five are among the more than 1 million deaths from COVID-19 in the country, according to federal figures.
In a statement on Saturday, President Joe Biden urged parents to get their young children vaccinated as soon as possible.
Which vaccine should I take?
None of them, said Dr. Peter Marks, director of vaccines for the FDA.
“Whatever vaccine your health care provider or your pediatrician has, this is what I would give to my child,” Marks said Friday.
The supplements haven’t been tested against each other, so experts say there’s no way to tell which is better.
Something to consider: Pfizer’s three-vaccine series takes about three months to complete, while Moderna’s two vaccines only take a month. Hence, families who want to protect their children early can opt for Moderna.
Who administers the vaccines?
Pediatricians, other primary care physicians and children’s hospitals are planning to supply the vaccines. A limited number of pharmacies will offer them for at least part of the age group under five.
Can children be given other vaccines at the same time?
It is common for young children to have more than one vaccine when they visit the doctor.
In the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine studies in infants and young children, no other vaccines were given at the same time, so there are no data on possible side effects if this occurs.
However, no problems have been seen in older children or adults when the COVID-19 vaccine and other injections are given together, and the CDC says it is safe for young children as well.
What if my child recently had COVID-19?
It is estimated that nearly three quarters of children of all ages have been infected at some point. For older people, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated anyway to reduce the chance of another infection.
Experts have observed cases of reinfection in already infected people and noted that the highest level of protection is in people who have been vaccinated and who have had the disease.
The CDC has indicated that people may consider waiting about three months after infection to get vaccinated.
Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.
The Associated Press Department of Health and Science is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.