They should talk with their pediatricians and others with medical expertise and experience. The American Academy of Pediatricians, a leading specialists group, says this about the low-, multi-dose regimen of coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for little ones:
“The AAP recommends Covid-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents 6 months of age and older who do not have contraindications using a vaccine authorized for use for their age. The AAP encourages all states to work with pediatrician practices to make accessing Covid vaccine as simple as possible.”
Many parents are unlikely to rush to get their babies and tots vaccinated, though about 20% will, experts believe based on opinion surveys and interviews. Grownups can find more information about getting the shots and their long-planned rollout in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia by clicking here. The Washington Post (click here), the New York Times (click here), and the Associated Press (click here) have put out FAQs for parents to understand more about the vaccines.
Federal regulators took important data in consideration in approving the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for the very young, the last sizable population group to be considered for vaccines:
- The pandemic has claimed more than 1 million U.S. lives and more than 86 million Americans have been infected with the disease. These numbers are likely undercounted.
- 5 million children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic according to available state reports; nearly 395,000 of these cases have been added in the past 4 weeks, according to the latest findings from the AAP
- 442 children have died of the virus since the pandemic began, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- More than 600 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered in this country, including in those ages 6 to 17, with real world data showing the shots were safe and highly effective in preventing illness, reducing hospitalizations, averting deaths — all with relatively rare and only minor side effects, experts reported at the publicly viewable weekend CDC vaccine review
- 20 million babies and tots (6 months-5 years) have not been eligible for immunization, causing high anxiety among parents about keeping these children safe from infection
Elite expert and independent advisers to the federal Food and Drug Administration and the CDC expressed few qualms about the safety of coronavirus vaccines, including for little patients. They acknowledged that multiple factors may challenge the effectiveness of the shots — because the virus continues to mutate rapidly, and it is harder to evaluate vaccines when so many in the U.S. population have been infected and inoculated. The available data, dosages, and the results differed between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in children.
Still, the experts in two separate deep examinations of information on the vaccines unanimously concluded the shots’ benefits far outweighed any downsides or doubts. By the way, as the AP noted, “While the Food and Drug Administration OKs vaccines, it’s the CDC that decides who should get them.”
Rochelle Walensky, the doctor who heads the CDC (shown in photo above), said this in a statement (as quoted by the Washington Post) in giving her agency’s approval to the pediatric vaccines:
“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nations fight against Covid-19. We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can.”
We are not done with the pandemic — and the infection doesn’t care how casual we wish to be about the death and debilitation it can cause. The nation is recording more than 300 deaths daily on average due to the virus.
Those with heightened vulnerability to the illness — those who are older, immunocompromised, overweight, and with underlying conditions, or individuals from hard-hit communities of color — still should stay careful, including by keeping on their masks. And, yes, so-called one-way masking has protective benefits.
The savvy will want to build up not discard their supply of masks, nabbing test kits, too (free from the federal government, including a second round of them, and delivered to your door). Just in case.
The vaccines remain life changers and life savers. If you have not gotten your shots, please do so, boosters and all, pronto. Those who had hang-ups about the existing, novel shots, notably with their innovative underlying technology, soon may have access to a late-arriving vaccine made in more traditional ways.
If you haven’t chatted with your doctor for a bit, you should — especially about whether your individual health would benefit from an additional dose of vaccine and when might be the time to get it. Parents should discuss with their pediatricians potential shots for and boosters for the little kids’ older siblings. (Get the young folks caught up on their shots now if you can, too.) If you have been exposed or think you have gotten infected, please get tested — and quarantine or isolate to protect yourself and others.