After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months of age, those children could get the shots as early as Tuesday, June 21.
The CDC on Saturday signed off on giving both Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccines to infants and children between 6 months and 5 years. It came after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel unanimously voted to authorize the use of the vaccines.
Because June 20 is the recently created “Juneteenth” federal holiday, officials in some U.S. municipalities released press releases saying that very young children can receive the vaccines Tuesday.
For example, officials in Santa Clara County—located in California’s Bay Area—said on June 17 that officials “will begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 6 months to 5 years old beginning Tuesday, June 21, assuming the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides final approval and vaccine supplies arrive as scheduled.”
Earlier this month, Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, suggested that after the FDA and CDC advisory meetings, shipments of the first 10 million doses would start this weekend.
“We expect that vaccination will begin in earnest as early as June 21 and really roll on throughout that week,” Jha told reporters.
The FDA Friday authorized the Moderna vaccine for children aged six months to five years as well as Pfizer’s shot for children aged six months to four years. Pfizer’s vaccine is already authorized for children over the age of five.
After the authorizations were handed down, President Joe Biden said that in the coming week, “parents will be able to start scheduling appointments at places like pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals, and pharmacies” to obtain the mRNA shots.
“Appointments will ramp up as more doses are shipped out, and in the coming weeks, every parent who wants a vaccine will be able to get one,” Biden said in a statement As the vaccination program ramps up, Vaccines.gov will be live next week with vaccine availability and appointments increasing throughout the week.”
It’s not clear how many parents will actually have their young children and infants receive the shot. According to federal data, only about 29 percent of children aged 5 to 11 are considered fully vaccinated after the Pfizer vaccine was authorized in October 2021 for the age group.
Meanwhile, sporadic polls targeting parents of young kids suggest that the vast majority of parents of young children don’t want their kids to receive the shots. Last month, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey revealed that only 18 percent of American parents with kids in that age group are planning on vaccinating their children.
A slew of studies and data has shown that children and young children have by far the lowest COVID-19 mortality rates of any age group, with elderly people and immunocompromised individuals having the highest. And in March, the CDC quietly removed about 25 percent of COVID-19 deaths among individuals younger than 18 as some doctors have sounded the alarm about giving the vaccines to the youngest children.
Reuters contributed to this report.