Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved emergency use authorization (EUA) of two COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months old.
- For the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the FDA amended the EUA to include use of the vaccine in individuals 6 months through 17 years of age. The vaccine had been authorized for use in adults 18 years of age and older.
- For the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the FDA amended the EUA to include use of the vaccine in individuals 6 months through 4 years of age. The vaccine had been authorized for use in individuals 5 years of age and older.
Here is what parents and guardians should know now about the COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 5.
When will COVID-19 vaccines be available for children under 5?
COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 5 is not yet available. COVID-19 vaccines become available to the public in Loudoun after: (1) the FDA authorizes the vaccine; (2) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccine; and (3) the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) adopts the CDC’s vaccine guidance.
The COVID-19 vaccine for children age 6 months to 4 years is expected to be recommended by the CDC and adopted by VDH as early as June 21, 2022.
What should parents and guardians consider in making the decision whether to have young children vaccinated against COVID-19?
While there is no urgency for healthy children under age 5 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, it is important to remember that the impact of the disease on individuals varies. Parents and guardians should consult their pediatrician about the COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 5, when available.
Generally, just like adults, children and teens can get very sick from COVID-19, have both short- and long-term health problems and spread COVID-19 to others. There is no way to tell in advance how children or teens will be affected by COVID-19. The CDC and VDH will offer recommendations for parents, guardians and pediatricians to consider. Currently, the CDC recommends that all individuals age 5 and older should get fully vaccinated and receive a booster dose. Children age 12 and over who have underlying medical conditions or who have a weakened immune system are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19; therefore, the CDC currently recommends vaccination and 2 boosters for this population.
Those without underlying medical conditions can also experience severe illness. The data shows that almost half of children younger than 18 who were hospitalized with COVID-19 had no underlying conditions.
Where will COVID-19 vaccine be available for young children (age 6 months to 4 years)?
When the COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for children age 6 months to 4 years, vaccines will be available through many pediatricians’ offices and pharmacies.
Parents and guardians are urged to contact their pediatrician about the vaccine. Pediatricians’ offices are an ideal setting for vaccinating children under age 5 because they are used to providing vaccine to very young children and are aware of any medical concerns and other special considerations for this age group.
Pharmacies are an excellent option for children age 3 and older. However, current Virginia law restricts pharmacists from administering vaccine to children younger than 3 years old, so parents and guardians should call first to check availability and the age groups that may be vaccinated in these locations based on the provider available at each pharmacy.
Vaccine providers can be found at vaccines.gov. Once vaccine for children under age 5 is available, the Loudoun Health Department recommends contacting the vaccine provider to verify whether it has the new vaccine formulation for this younger age group in stock.
Loudoun County will be offering COVID-19 vaccinations by appointment only at its Health Department clinic location in Leesburg for those age 6 months and older who are unable to receive vaccine through a pediatrician or pharmacy. A schedule will be determined and shared with the public once confirmed. For safety reasons, Loudoun County is not currently planning on operating a mass vaccination clinic for children under age 5.
Parents or guardians who have questions about COVID-19 vaccine or have difficulty finding a vaccine may call the Loudoun Health Department at 703-737-8300 or send an email to the Health Department.
More information about COVID-19 vaccine for children age 6 months to 4 years will be posted on Loudoun County’s website, when available. Visit loudoun.gov/coronavirus to learn more.
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