HealthDay News — After a final sign-off on Saturday from the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than 5 years have finally become a reality.
“This expands eligibility for vaccination to nearly 20 million additional children and means that all Americans ages 6 months and older are now eligible for vaccination,” the agency said in a news release.
“Distribution of pediatric vaccinations for these younger children has started across the country, and will be available at thousands of pediatric practices, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, local health departments, clinics, and other locations this week,” the CDC continued. “Children in this younger age group can be vaccinated with whichever vaccine is available (either Moderna or Pfizer). Parents can reach out to their doctor, nurse, local pharmacy or health department, or visit vaccines.gov to see where vaccines for children are available.”
Health officials have said the federal government will be ready to ship doses out this week. During a media briefing earlier this month, White House COVID-19 Coordinator Ashish Jha, M.D., said the federal government has an initial supply of 10 million doses of pediatric vaccines and states could start placing orders. “Our expectation is that within weeks every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment,” Jha said.
The White House wants states to prioritize the doses for young children to high-traffic locations, such as children’s hospitals, and to offer appointments outside regular work hours so it is easier for parents to get their children vaccinated. Pharmacies and states had already ordered millions of doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than 5 years, the Biden administration said last week.