A panel of advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Saturday voted to recommend COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as six months, making it likely a nationwide rollout can start next week.
The 12-0 vote in favor of the move needs to be signed off by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for the US government to start rolling out the vaccines for children aged five and under.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday authorized Moderna’s shot for children aged six months to five years, and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children aged six months to four years. Pfizer’s vaccine is already authorized for children over the age of five. While the FDA approves the vaccines themselves, it’s the CDC that decides who should get them.
“This infection kills children and we have an opportunity to prevent that,” Beth Bell, one of the doctors on the panel, said following the vote. “Here is an opportunity to prevent a known risk.”
Roll out to begin next week
President Joe Biden’s administration plans to roll out the vaccines to the under-five age groups as early as next week.
“We will begin shipping millions of vaccine doses for kids to thousands of locations parents know and trust — including pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals, and pharmacies,” Biden said in a statement on Friday.
“As doses are delivered, parents will be able to start scheduling vaccinations for their youngest kids as early as next week, with appointments ramping up over the coming days and weeks.”
While many parents in the United States are eager to vaccinate their children, it is unclear how strong demand will be for the shots. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for children aged five to 11 in October, but only about 29 percent of that group is so far fully vaccinated, federal data shows.
There is no COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada on children younger than five years old. Older Canadian children have been able to get a COVID-19 vaccine for months — Pfizer’s vaccine is approved for kids five and up and Moderna’s for children six and up.
WATCH | Canadian doctor reacts to US approvals: