TODAY: COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5, what parents need to know about safety, efficacy
By A. Pawlowski
The youngest Americans are one step closer to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine after a panel of experts recommended administering two vaccine candidates to infants, toddlers and small children.
Kids younger than 5 — about 18 million in all — are the last age group in the U.S. not yet eligible for the shots. That may change very soon, to the relief of many parents.
An advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted to endorse vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer following a meeting on Wednesday. The FDA is expected to decide whether to follow that recommendation and authorize the shots for emergency use soon after.
If the FDA authorizes and CDC recommends that kids under 5 get vaccinated, the first shots will go into small arms as soon as June 21, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said last week.
TODAY asked Dr. Kristin Moffitt, a physician scientist in the pediatric infectious diseases division at Boston Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School; and Dr. Angela Myers, director of the infectious diseases division at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.
Does my baby, toddler or small child really need to get vaccinated?
It’s true that the majority of kids who get COVID-19 have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all — but some kids do get severe disease, Myers cautioned.
“You cannot predict if your kid is going to get severe disease or not,” she said. “Why wouldn’t you vaccinate to prevent something that could be bad?”
The virus is unpredictable, as previous waves of illness have shown. COVID-19-related hospitalizations were five times higher in young children during the first omicron surge than they had been with prior variants, Moffitt added.