As a public health professional and mother of young children, I am happy to see the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) begin formal consideration of COVID-19 vaccination for children as young as 6 months.
The key to this federal review is determining if the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh any potential adverse effects. The FDA Advisory Panel is scheduled to meet Wednesday, June 15, to decide whether to grant Emergency Use Authorization for a Pfizer vaccine for ages 6 months through 4 years and a Moderna vaccine for 6 months through 5 years of age.
If the panel recommends the vaccines and the FDA director concurs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices would give its recommendation later this week. Approval from the CDC director would likely make these vaccines available early next week.
Arizona health care providers, including pediatricians, have pre-ordered around 41,000 doses that are scheduled to arrive early next week. Retail pharmacies have about 28,000 doses coming early next week through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. More doses will arrive in the weeks following, subject to the decisions made.
If you have questions about scheduling your young child for a COVID-19 vaccination, please check with your health care provider or retail pharmacy.
With millions of doses administered to date across the country, COVID-19 vaccines have a track record of safety and effectiveness in older children. There has been a rare increased risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) in adolescent males, but that is much lower than the risk of myocarditis from COVID-19 itself.
As we look toward the prospect of COVID-19 vaccination for children as young as 6 months, I also encourage parents to make sure your children are up to date on their regular childhood immunizations. Vaccination against measles, whooping cough, mumps, and other diseases protects your child and others. It also helps make sure day care centers and classrooms have less interruption from diseases such as COVID-19.
Children may be less likely to have severe outcomes from COVID-19, but there have been cases of severe illness, hospitalization, and even death among those younger than 6. Young children also are very effective spreaders of disease, so having them vaccinated helps protect those around them, including older relatives who are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
When vaccination is available for the youngest group, our COVID-19 vaccine finder at azhealth.gov/FindVaccine will be updated to reflect locations offering vaccines for the youngest children. If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccination for your child, I encourage you to contact your health care provider and visit azhealth.gov/VaccinesForKids.
Vaccines have long allowed us to protect our children from polio and other harmful childhood diseases. COVID-19 vaccines have a proven track record of protecting everyone ages 5 and older from severe illness, and I look forward to that protection being available to the youngest among us.