CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for the youngest children

Vaccines will be mainly available through pediatricians’ offices

Vermont Business Magazine On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended COVID-19 vaccines for children age 6 months through 5 years of age, paving the way for vaccinating the youngest Vermonters later this month.

“This is very welcome news for the parents and caregivers who have been waiting for more than a year now for their young children to benefit from a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “Vaccines are the safer way to build protection against the virus and help prevent serious outcomes.”

Both the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been authorized for use. Providers will begin receiving the vaccines this week, but will have their own plans for administering them, so parents and caregivers should expect to hear from their child’s pediatrician when they are ready to begin vaccinations.

“Pediatricians are a trusted resource for parents, and they can answer questions and provide a familiar, comfortable setting for children to be vaccinated,” Dr. Levine said.

There are about 26,000 children age 6 months through 4 years old in Vermont who will now be eligible for vaccination.

“This is an important and welcomed step forward,” said Governor Scott. “Vermont has led the nation in vaccination uptake, especially among our youth. I’m confident Vermont parents and caregivers will continue to step up in this new phase of our vaccination efforts.”

The Health Department will also offer the vaccines at a limited number of walk-in clinics, including at equity-focused clinics. Information about clinics with vaccines for this age group will be updated at as soon as it’s available. There is no registration for these clinics. Families enrolled in WIC may also be able to get vaccinated through their local WIC office. Some pharmacies will also carry the vaccine, but can only vaccinate children age 3 and older.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized to be given to children age 6 months through 4 years in two doses that are three weeks apart, followed by a third dose at least two months later. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is authorized to be given to children 6 months through 5 years in two doses four weeks apart.

Pfizer doses are one-tenth the dosage given to adults, while the Moderna doses are one-fourth the dosage.

The vaccines were found to be safe, with side effects typically mild and temporary.

Vermont Pediatricians and Family Physicians Welcome Authorization of COVID-19 Vaccines for Children under 5

Vermont child health professionals welcome the authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for young children over the age of 6 months by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the unanimous recommendation for use in this age group by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Data presented to the FDA and CDC show that the benefits of vaccination in this age group outweigh the risks. The American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter (AAPVT) and the American Academy of Family Physicians Vermont Chapter (VTAFP) recommend COVID-19 vaccination of all eligible children. All children will benefit from vaccination regardless of underlying health status or prior COVID-19 infection.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for young children are a smaller dose than that recommended for adults and older children and show similar antibody responses in clinical trials. Both vaccines were well-tolerated by young children with no serious safety concerns.

“Child health professionals have been vaccinating children and adolescents over 5 years of age for many months now. Our vaccinated patients have been well-protected from severe COVID-19 disease and we are eager to offer this same protection to younger children” said Dr. Rebecca Bell, president of AAPVT.

Vermont has led the way in COVID-19 vaccination of children and adolescents. Pediatricians and Family Physicians have been working with the Vermont Department of Health to prepare to receive shipments of vaccine for our youngest patients. We expect to be able to administer the vaccines in the coming weeks.

“Vaccinating children against COVID-19 provides an opportunity to safely prepare the immune system for future exposures of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and to protect children against serious disease caused by the virus” said Dr. Katie Marvin, president of VTAFP. “Families of young children have been waiting a long time for this opportunity.

"We encourage families to reach out to their child’s health professional with any questions they may have. We are accustomed to being a trusted source of information around vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccine is no different. Protecting children from vaccine-preventable illnesses is a top priority for pediatricians and family physicians and we are ready to counsel families on the importance of vaccination."

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