Finally, COVID-19 vaccinations soon available for children under five

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The White House has announced that they are preparing to make the first COVID-19 vaccinations available for children ages six months to five years old. If all goes well, they said that children in this age group could start getting vaccinated shortly after the federal Juneteenth holiday on Monday, June 19, 2022.

The FDA has an advisory meeting on June 15. In addition to the FDA approval, support and approval must also come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Centers for Disease Control’s director. As soon as this happens, approximately 10 million doses of vaccines will be shipped out to hospitals, clinics, and other vaccination centers. 

Any parent with a child aged six months to five years should be able to get them vaccinated within a week or two of the release, which is expected to happen during the last 10 days of June. 

Many parents of these young children have been eagerly waiting for the time when they could protect their children under age five with the COVID-19 vaccination. It has been extraordinarily frustrating to watch other children older than five get vaccinated and boosted.

In an interview with NPR, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, commented: “It’s been a long two years. This is the last group of Americans who have not yet been eligible to get vaccinated. We expect vaccinations to begin in earnest as early as Tuesday, June 21, and really roll on throughout that week. Our expectation is that within weeks, every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment [to do so].”

The two available vaccines, Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech, both will require the first two shots to be given approximately one month apart. Additionally, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will require a third shot approximately two months after the first two shots. 

As a result, it will take several months for this group to get fully vaccinated. As my grandmother liked to say, “The sooner we start, the sooner we will get there’” 

 Many parents are eager to get their children protected with the COVID-19 vaccine. Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy has been a measurable consideration for adults and children over five. It will be interesting to see how many parents get their children under five years old vaccinated and how they may influence the vaccination of other hesitant and unvaccinated groups. 

Many people are done with COVID, but COVID is not done with us. The coronavirus disease continues around the world and in the U.S., including Minnesota (see sidebar). The best protection is vaccination and clean health practices.

The good news is that many vaccine manufacturers, including Moderna and Pfizer, are developing second-generation bivalent vaccines that will have an increased efficacy against all the COVID variants. These may be available as early as this fall. 

Other manufacturers are also developing more traditional vaccines, such as Novovax. Novovax is based on proteins rather than RNA. Novovax may allow those skeptical about the newer RNA vaccines to get vaccinated. The Novovax vaccine should be available soon. 

Many physicians recommend booster shots four to five months after your last shot. That COVID-19 vaccination schedule may be different if you are immunocompromised. Talk to your doctor to find out the best vaccination schedule for you and your family. 

The COVID-19 vaccination will not necessarily prevent you from getting infected by COVID-19 (including the many variants), but it will keep you out of the hospital and keep you from dying. 

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