The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved COVID-19 immunizations for infants as young as six months old on Saturday, paving the way for a statewide deployment to begin next week.

The CDC’s decision came after a panel of the organization’s experts decided earlier on Saturday to recommend COVID-19 vaccinations for those youngsters.

“We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in a statement.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved Moderna Inc’s (MRNA.O) vaccination for children aged six months to five years, as well as Pfizer-(PFE.N) BioNTech’s vaccine for children aged six months to four years, on Friday. The vaccine developed by Pfizer is already approved for children over the age of five. more info

“This infection kills children and we have an opportunity to prevent that,” Beth Bell, one of the doctors on the advisory panel, said following the vote. “Here is an opportunity to prevent a known risk.”

In a statement, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called the measure a “historic milestone.”

President Joe Biden’s administration intends to begin distributing the immunizations to children under the age of five as soon as next week.

“This coming week, parents will be able to start scheduling appointments at places like pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals, and pharmacies,” Biden said in a statement on Saturday.

“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. As the vaccination program ramps up, Vaccines.gov will be live next week with vaccine availability and appointments increasing throughout the week.”

While many parents in the United States are keen to vaccinate their children, it is unknown how high the demand for the vaccines will be. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for children aged 5 to 11 in October, but government records indicate that just approximately 29 percent of that age group has been properly immunized.

CVS Health Corp (CVS.N) intends to give immunizations to children aged 18 months and older, while Rite Aid Corp (RAD.N) and Walmart Inc (WMT.N) want to offer similar doses to children aged three and above. Traditionally, infants get vaccinated in a doctor’s office.

Public health experts have been advocating for kid vaccines ahead of the start of the new school year, hoping that the jabs would help avoid hospitalizations and fatalities if COVID-19 cases increase again.

COVID-19 is often less severe in children. Nonetheless, according to the CDC, it has been the fifth highest cause of mortality in children aged 1-4 and the fourth major cause of death in infants younger than one since March 2020.

The CDC experts will reconvene next week to decide whether to support the use of the Moderna vaccine for children and adolescents aged 6 to 17. There has been considerable worry regarding the Moderna vaccine’s risk of uncommon instances of heart inflammation in adolescent boys and young men, and the advisors are likely to take it into account.

Source: Reuters

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