Her active child sat on her lap at a vaccine clinic hosted by Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., while he was receiving his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The bullet was injected into his thigh. He cried for a few seconds but then turned his attention towards a golden retriever who was on site as a comfort dog introduced by the hospital.
“I’m really thrilled that we have this opportunity,” Deru, a pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., told Susan Malvo on Tuesday of her son’s vaccination.
DeRoo added that her family will now feel more comfortable participating in certain activities, knowing that their youngest son has started a series of Covid-19 vaccines.
“It would definitely allow us to have more freedom in our personal lives and what we do,” Derue said. “And for the baby, we’ll feel like we’ve wrapped him in as much protection as possible.”
Covid-19 vaccinations for children under the age of 5 began Tuesday across the United States, marking a milestone in the nation’s fight against the disease.
Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration expanded emergency use authorizations for Moderna’s vaccine to include children 6 months to 17 years old and Pfizer/BioNTech for children 6 months to 4 years old.
Then on Saturday, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walinsky signed off on Covid-19 vaccines for children under five, paving the way for vaccinations in that age group.
About 17 million children under the age of five are now eligible for Covid-19 vaccines.
“This is a great day. We have been waiting a long time for the kids to get vaccinated. We now have every age group, 6 months and up, in the country that is now eligible for protection from the Covid-19 vaccine. And I will tell you as a father of a 4-year-old, This is a big problem for my family, too,” US General Surgeon Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN reporter Brianna Keeler Tuesday morning.
“One million more doses have been shipped and administration sites will soon receive them,” HHS spokesperson Tim Granholm wrote in an email to CNN Wednesday morning.
“HHS has received requests for nearly 4.2 million doses to date,” Granholm wrote. “We will continue to deliver vaccines urgently as we are fulfilling orders and taking new ones. We made 10 million doses of vaccine available to order initially, with millions more available soon, so supply should not be an obstacle for someone to vaccinate their young child.”
Vaccines are given in child-sized doses
Under FDA authorization, Moderna vaccine may be given as an initial series of two doses, with doses four weeks apart, at 25 mcg per dose, to infants and children 6 months to 5 years of age.
While the FDA has authorized the Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 to 17, the CDC has not yet recommended it for that age group, so these vaccines cannot yet be given. FDA authorization will allow children ages 6 to 11 to receive doses of 50 micrograms each. For those 12 years of age or older, they will be given as doses of 100 mcg.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can now be given as an initial series of three doses, at 3 mcg per dose, for use in infants and children 6 months to 4 years of age. The vaccine is given as an initial series of two doses at 10 mcg per dose for children 5 to 11 years of age and 30 mcg per dose for adolescents and adults 12 years of age or older.
Completing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine series is a longer process, with the first two doses given three weeks apart, and then the third dose given eight weeks later.
Dr. Janet Lee of the University of Arkansas for the Medical Sciences, who serves on the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, expressed concern about children not completing all three doses.
“Three doses will definitely help,” he told me. “I am very concerned that many of these children will not get a third dose.” “My concern is that you have to get all three doses to get what you really need.”
For children who may turn 4 to 5 years old at any time while completing the Pfizer/BioNTech series of vaccines, the CDC recommends two options. A child can complete the basic 2-dose series for children ages 5 through 11, or they can complete the 3-dose series for younger children, but each of the 2 and 3 doses may be either a dose for younger children or 5 through 11.
The Food and Drug Administration’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products decided that the benefits of both vaccines outweighed the risks and noted that the vaccines were “well tolerated” among children who received them in clinical trials.
According to clinical trial data, common side effects of both vaccines include pain at the injection site, headache, fever, chills, and fatigue. Vaccines appear to elicit similar immune responses in children as seen in adults.
Where can young children be vaccinated?
Pediatricians’ offices and pharmacies are the main locations where young children can receive the vaccination.
“We know that parents are going to want their children vaccinated at pediatricians’ clinics. Some people will go to the pharmacy, others will go to a children’s hospital or some kind of community health center,” Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, said Monday on CBS.
“But the bottom line is, I think the majority of parents would like their children to be vaccinated at the pediatrician’s office,” Jha said. “Therefore, many pediatricians will offer the vaccine.”
For drugstore locations that offer these child-sized vaccines, CVS and Walgreens have both announced plans to offer the vaccinations.
CVS will begin giving Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccines to children under five on Tuesday, a communications representative told CNN.
“We will begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to eligible children 18 months to four years old at our 1100 MinuteClinic locations starting Tuesday,” Matt Blanchett, senior director of retail communications with CVS Pharmacy, told CNN in an email. . .
“MinuteClinic is located within select CVS Pharmacy stores in 35 states and Washington, DC,” Blanchett said. Appointments will be available on a rolling basis according to vaccine supplies.
Blanchett said children over 5 years old will still have access to Covid-19 vaccines at CVS pharmacies.
On Saturday, Walgreens announced in a press release that vaccination appointments for young children will be available starting June 25. Walgreens will vaccinate children 3 and older at “select” locations, and appointments can be made online.
A communications representative told CNN Monday that Hy-Vee pharmacies will provide Covid-19 vaccines for children under five as soon as doses are available.
“Hy-Vee expects to receive its allocations for the newly approved age groups in the coming days,” Tina Potthoff, Senior Vice President of Communications, wrote in an email.
“Once we receive the vaccine and the appointment schedule is open for these age groups, we will post an update on the COVID-19 vaccine landing page, post on our Hy-Vee Store Facebook pages, and contact our state-area media outlets to make them aware of our pediatric centers accepting appointments. “.
She wrote that due to federal regulations, Hy-Vee will provide vaccinations for children 3 years of age and older.
“Under the PREP Act, retail pharmacies, including Hy-Vee pharmacies, are only allowed to administer vaccines to patients over 3 years of age,” Potthoff wrote in the email. Patients under 3 years of age should visit their pediatrician or health care provider to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
CNN’s Naomi Thomas and Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.