The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency use authorisation to the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for children under five. Vaccine advisors at the CDC have voted unanimously in support of the measure. As a result, the COVID-19 vaccine can now be given to children as young as six months old.
The Pfizer vaccine is good for children six months to four years old. The dose is one-tenth of the adult dose. The children will need three shots - the first two to be given three weeks apart and the last shot two months later.
The Moderna vaccine is a quarter of its adult dose and is to be given in a two-shot dose four weeks apart for children six months through five years. The FDA has also approved a third dose for children with immune conditions who may be more vulnerable to serious illness. The third shot is to be given a month after the second shot.
Vaccine administration in the U.S. should begin as early as next week. Millions of doses have already been ordered for distribution to hospitals, doctors and community health clinics.
The CDC recommends the vaccine for infants, toddlers and preschoolers as it can offer protection from hospitalisation, death and long-term complications.
Nearly 18 million children are now eligible to receive the vaccine. However, it remains to be seen how many children actually get it. Findings from a survey conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation in April found that only 18% of parents of children under five were interested in vaccinating their children if the vaccine was approved. 40% said they would wait and see, 11% said they would get the vaccine only if required, and 27% said they would definitely not vaccinate their child.
On the other hand, some parents are glad to hear of this approval as they have been avoiding social gatherings for quite a while now because the younger ones were not vaccinated.
COVID-19 is most dangerous for older adults, but there is always a risk that younger people may also get sick. The CDC advisors recommend vaccination even though death among younger children is rare.
For children who may already have been infected with COVID-19, CDC recommends waiting about three months after infection to be vaccinated.
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