Her active baby sat on her lap at a vaccination clinic hosted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC, as she received her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The injection was administered in her thigh. She cried for a few seconds, but then her attention was drawn to a golden retriever who was on site as a comfort dog provided by the hospital.
“I’m really excited to have this opportunity,” DeRoo, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC, told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux on Tuesday about her son’s vaccination.
DeRoo added that his family will now feel more comfortable participating in certain activities, knowing that his youngest son has started his series of vaccines against covid-19.
“It will certainly allow us to have more freedom with our personal lives and what we do,” DeRoo said. “And for the baby, we’ll feel like we’ve covered it with as much protection as possible.”
Covid-19 vaccinations for children under the age of 5 begin 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 ages 6 months to 17 years and Pfizer/BioNTech to children ages 6 months to 4 years.
Then on Saturday, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, approved Covid-19 vaccines for children under 5, paving the way for vaccines are given in that age group.
Around 17 million children under the age of 5 are now eligible for Covid-19 vaccines.
“This is a great day. We have been waiting a long time for children to have access to the vaccine. We now have every age group, 6 months and older, in the country that is now eligible to get protection against Covid- 19. And I’ll tell you as the parent of a 4-year-old, this is a huge deal for my family as well,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Tuesday morning. .
“Another 1 million doses have been shipped and will soon be received by administration sites,” HHS spokesman Tim Granholm wrote in an email to CNN Wednesday morning.
“HHS has received orders for approximately 4.2 million doses to date,” Granholm wrote. “We will continue to deliver vaccines on an expedited basis as we fill orders and take new ones. Initially, we made 10 million doses of vaccine available for order, with millions more to come soon, so supply should not be a barrier to someone vaccinate his young son.”
Vaccines given in child-sized doses
Under FDA authorization, the Moderna vaccine can be administered as a two-dose primary series, with doses given four weeks apart, at 25 micrograms each dose, to infants and children 6 months through 5 years of age.
While the FDA has licensed Moderna’s vaccine for children ages 6 to 17, the CDC hasn’t yet recommended it for that age group, so those shots can’t be given yet. The FDA authorization would allow children ages 6 to 11 to receive doses of 50 micrograms each. For those over 12 years of age, it would be administered in a dose of 100 micrograms.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can now be administered as a three-dose primary series, at 3 micrograms each dose, for use in infants and children 6 months to 4 years of age. The vaccine is administered as a two-dose primary series of 10 micrograms per dose for children 5 to 11 years of age and 30 micrograms per dose for adolescents and adults over 12 years of age.
Completing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine series is a longer process, as the first two doses are given three weeks apart and the third dose is given eight weeks later.
Dr. Jeannette Lee of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, who is on the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee, raised concerns about children not completing all three doses.
“Certainly, three doses will benefit. I am very concerned that many of these children are not getting a third dose,” Lee said. “My concern is that you have to get all three doses to really get what you need.”
For children who could turn 4 to 5 years old at any time while completing their Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine series, the CDC recommends two options. The child could complete the primary two-dose series licensed for children ages 5 through 11 years, or could complete the three-dose series for younger children, but each of doses 2 and 3 may be the dose for younger children or for ages 5 to 11
The FDA’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biologics determined that the benefits of both vaccines outweigh the risks and noted that the vaccines have been “well tolerated” among children who received them in clinical trials.
Based on clinical trial data, common side effects of both vaccines include pain at the injection site, headache, fever, chills, and fatigue. The vaccines appeared to elicit similar immune responses in children as have been seen in adults.
Where can young children be vaccinated?
Pediatric offices and pharmacies are the main places where young children can be vaccinated.
“We know that parents will want to get their children vaccinated at pediatricians’ offices. Some people will go to a pharmacy, others will go to a children’s hospital or some kind of community health center,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the coordinator of White House Covid-19 response, he said Monday on CBS.
“But the bottom line is that I think most parents will want to get their children vaccinated at the pediatrician’s office,” Jha said. “So a lot of pediatricians are going to offer the vaccine.”
As for pharmacy locations that offer these children’s vaccines, CVS and Walgreens have announced plans to provide vaccines.
CVS will begin administering Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccines to children under the age of 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 of age at our 1,100 MinuteClinic locations beginning Tuesday,” Matt Blanchette, senior manager of retail communications for CVS Pharmacy, told CNN. in an email. .
“MinuteClinic is located inside select CVS Pharmacy stores in 35 states and Washington, DC,” said Blanchette. Appointments will be available on an ongoing basis based on vaccine supply.
Blanchette said that children over the age of 5 will still be able to access Covid-19 vaccines at CVS pharmacies.
On Saturday, Walgreens announced in a press release that appointments for vaccinations for young children will be available starting June 25. Walgreens will vaccinate children ages 3 and older at “select” locations, and appointments can be scheduled online.
Hy-Vee pharmacies will have Covid-19 vaccines available for children under the age of 5 once doses are available, a communications representative told CNN on Monday.
“Hy-Vee anticipates receiving its allocations for the newly approved age groups in the next few days,” Tina Potthoff, senior vice president of communications, wrote in an email.
“As soon as we get the vaccine and our appointment scheduler is open for these age groups, we will post an update on our COVID-19 vaccine landing page, post on our Hy-Vee store Facebook pages, and contact the media in our eight state regions to let them know about our pediatric centers that are accepting appointments.
Due to federal regulations, he wrote, Hy-Vee will only provide vaccines to children over the age of 3.
“Under the PREP Act, retail pharmacies, including Hy-Vee pharmacies, are only authorized to administer vaccines to patients over the age of 3,” Potthoff wrote in the email. “Patients under the age of 3 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.