June 21, 2022 at 11:01am AM EDT
With kids under 5 now able to receive COVID-19 vaccines, we're entering a new phase of the pandemic. Jacob Lund/Adobe Stock
“Many parents, caregivers and clinicians have been waiting for a vaccine for younger children and this action will help protect those down to 6 months of age. As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death,” FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. said in a statement following the move. “Those trusted with the care of children can have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of these COVID-19 vaccines and can be assured that the agency was thorough in its evaluation of the data.”
Much like with teens and adults, both vaccines are considered equally safe and effective but there are slight differences in the dosages and timing. For the Moderna vaccine, it’s administered via two doses, each a month apart and a third booster for immunocompromised individuals in the age group a month after their second dose. Meanwhile, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is given via three doses — the first two given three weeks apart and the third eight weeks after the second for people in the 6 months to 4 years age group.
As the Centers for Disease Control noted in their announcement recommending the vaccines for younger children, these vaccines “have undergone—and will continue to undergo—the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.”
“As with all vaccines for any population, when authorizing COVID-19 vaccines intended for pediatric age groups, the FDA ensures that our evaluation and analysis of the data is rigorous and thorough,” Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in a statement. “In addition to making certain the data for these vaccines met FDA’s rigorous standards, the agency’s convening of an advisory committee was part of a transparent process to help the public have a clear understanding of the safety and effectiveness data supporting the authorization of these two vaccines for pediatric populations.”
But, of course, if you have specific questions about the vaccines, your pediatrician is always a great resource.
As for distribution of these vaccines, that’s something officials have had planned out as of late 2021. Per the CDC, distribution has already started with appointments available at thousands of pediatric healthcare practices, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers and local clinics. For parents looking to get their younger children vaccinated, they can talk to their own pediatrician, local pharmacist or head over to vaccines.gov for more information about locations and availability in their area.
Before you go, check out our favorite all-natural cough and cold products for kids: