WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Children under the age of 5 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine as federal regulators give more green lights.
The FDA announced its approval on Friday, and the CDC’s approval is expected to happen Saturday, resulting in children 6 months and older being allowed to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as next week.
FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks says the Moderna vaccine works more rapidly, but the Pfizer shot has other benefits. “The three-dose Pfizer regimen may also bring a greater immune response after the third dose,” Marks said.
Both vaccines are safe and effective; however, Jen Kates with the Kaiser Family Foundation says only about 18% of parents are eager to get these young kids vaccinated. “A good portion, almost 4 in 10, say they don’t want to get their young kid vaccinated at all, only will do so if they have to,” Kates said.
FDA chief Robert Califf says for as long as a significant portion of the population remains unvaccinated, the pandemic will continue. “This is a real issue and it is a drain on our health care system when we don’t have the population adequately vaccinated. And it’s also sad for the preventable illness that occurs,” Commissioner Califf said.
Kates said more older children need to be vaccinated as well. “At this point, 5 to 11 year olds have been able to get vaccinated since November, and only just under 30% are fully vaccinated,” Kates said.
The Biden administration says it secured enough of the vaccines for babies, toddlers and young kids, and made them available for states to pre-order, but Florida did not. “Which means that pediatricians, for example, in Florida will not have immediate ready access to vaccines,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Another challenge in getting the nation’s youngest vaccinated is that most pharmacies won’t be able to administer the shots for kids under the age of 3, so families will have to go to their pediatrician or to other clinics.