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Children ages 6 months through 5 years can now get the COVID vaccine, CDC announces

June 18, 2022, 7:12 PM UTC
A young boy receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Thailand on Feb. 16.
Teera Noisakran—Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

All children 6 months and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Saturday endorsed the recommendation of advisers, who earlier in the day unanimously recommended the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children under 5—the last group ineligible for the shots.

“Parents and caregivers can now get their children 6 months through 5 years of age vaccinated,” the federal healthy agency said in a news release, adding that all children—including those who have had COVID—should get vaccinated.

Vaccines young children, who are dosed differently due to age, will be available at thousands of pediatrician offices, pharmacies, local health departments, and clinics in the coming week, the agency said. Parents can visit vaccines.gov to find locations where vaccines specifically made for young children are available.

On Friday the U.S. Food and Drug administration approved emergency use of both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children ages 6 months through 4 years of age.

Nearly 20 million additional kids are now eligible for vaccination, but it’s uncertain how many will receive the vaccine. Children ages 5 through 11 become eligible in November, but less than a third of them have been vaccinated, according to the Associated Press.

Pfizer’s vaccine for the youngest children uses a tenth of the adult dose, and three shots are needed—the first given two weeks apart, and the last around two months later, the AP reports.

Moderna’s vaccine for the same age group involves two shots—of a quarter of the adult dose—given four weeks apart. A third dose, at least a month after the second shot, is available to children who are immunocompromised.

It’s difficult to say how effective the shots will be, especially against emerging Omicron subvariants and potential future variants. Moderna’s course for ages 6 months through 4 years appeared to be about 40% effective at preventing milder disease during Omicron’s surge, the AP reported.

Pfizer said it’s three-dose series proved 80% effective. But data is limited, federal health officials point out, and reliable estimates aren’t yet available.

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