US opens COVID vaccine to little kids, shots begin next week

US opens COVID vaccine to little kids, shots begin next week

NEW YORK — The U.S. on Saturday opened COVID-19 vaccines to infants, toddlers and preschoolers. The shots will be available next week and will expand the nation’s vaccination campaign to include children as young as six months old.

Advisers to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that vaccines be given to the youngest children. Dr. Rochelle Walensky was the agency’s final signatore just hours later.

” We know that millions of parents and caregivers want to get their children vaccinated. Today’s decision makes it possible,” Walensky stated in a statement.

While the Food and Drug Administration approves vaccines it is the CDC that determines who should receive them. The shots provide protection for young children against hospitalizations, death, and other long-term complications that are still unclear, according to the CDC advisory panel.

The government has already been gearing up for the vaccine expansion, with millions of doses ordered for distribution to doctors, hospitals and community health clinics around the country.

Around 18million children will be eligible. However, it remains to be determined how many will actually get the vaccines. Since November, vaccinations were available to less than a third (or less) of children aged 5 to 11.

Here’s some information:

WHAT KINDS OF Vaccinations Are Available?

Pfizer and Moderna were given the go ahead by the FDA on Friday and the CDC on Saturday. Although the vaccines are based on the same technology, they are offered in different doses and with different shots for children younger than 6.

Pfizer’s vaccine for children 6 months-to-4 years old is available. Three shots are required to get the same dose as the adult dose. The first two shots are given three weeks apart and the second at least two months later.

Moderna’s consists of two shots, each one a quarter the adult dose, and given approximately four weeks apart to children aged 6 months to 5 years. For children with immune conditions that make it more susceptible to serious illness, the FDA approved a third dose at least one month after the first shot.

HOW DO THEY WORK?

Studies have shown that children who were vaccinated had levels of virus-fighting antibody as strong as adults. This suggests that the child-sized doses are effective in protecting against coronavirus infection. However it is difficult to determine how effective they are, especially with the Pfizer vaccine.

Two doses of Moderna appeared to be only about 40% effective at preventing milder infections at a time when the omicron variant was causing most COVID-19 illnesses. Pfizer presented data that suggested the company could see 80% from its three shots. Experts and federal officials disagree with Pfizer’s estimate. The data was so small and based only on a few cases, and it is not reliable.

SHOULD MY LITTLE ONE GET VACCINATED?

Yes, according to the CDC’s advisors. While COVID-19 has been the most dangerous for older adults, younger people, including children, can also get very sick.

Hospitalizations surged during the omicron wave. Since the start of the pandemic, about 480 children under age 5 are counted among the nation’s more than 1 million COVID-19 deaths, according to federal data.

“It’s worth getting vaccinated, even though there are a lot of deaths, because these deaths can be prevented through vaccination,” stated Dr. Matthew Daley, a Kaiser Permanente Colorado researcher and member of the CDC advisory committee.

WHICH VACINE SHOULD MY CHILD HAVE?

Any, according to Dr. Peter Marks (FDA’s vaccine chief).

“Whatever vaccine you or your child’s doctor has, that’s what we would give to our child,” Marks stated Friday.

Experts don’t know which dose is better, as they haven’t been compared.

One concern: Moderna’s two shots take approximately three months to complete, while the three-shot series by Pfizer takes about three months. Moderna might be a good option for families who want to quickly protect their children.

WHO IS GIVING THE SHOTS

Pediatricians, other primary care physicians and children’s hospitals are planning to provide the vaccines. Limited drugstores will offer them for at least some of the under-5 group.

U.S. Officials expect that most shots will be administered at pediatricians’ offices. Many parents may be more comfortable getting the vaccine for their kids at their regular doctor, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said. He predicted that vaccinations will take place at a slower pace than for older people.

” We’re going to see vaccinations ramping up over weeks, and even possibly over a few months,” Jha stated.

CAN CHILDREN GET OTHER VACCINES AT THE SAME TIME?

It is common for children to receive more than one vaccine at the same time during a doctor’s appointment.

In studies on infants and toddlers receiving Moderna and Pfizer shots, there were no other vaccines given simultaneously. This means that there are no data about possible side effects.

But problems have not been identified in older children or adults when COVID-19 shots and other vaccinations were given together, and the CDC is advising that it’s safe for younger children as well.

WHAT IF MY CHILD RECENTLY HAD COVID-19?

It is estimated that around three quarters of all children have been infected at one time or another. The CDC recommends vaccination for older children to reduce the chance of reinfection.

Experts noted that there are re-infections among people who have been infected before and that the best protection is for those who have been vaccinated. The CDC suggests that people wait three months after getting infected to get vaccinated.

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Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. All content is the responsibility of the Associated Press.

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