Shots for Tots: COVID Vaccination Begins for Young American Children

Little Fletcher Pack woke up on Monday morning and asked: “Is today Vaccine Day?”

For a 3-year-old from Lexington, South Carolina, the answer was yes.

The nation’s infants, toddlers and preschoolers are finally getting their chance at a COVID-19 vaccination as the US rolls out shots for tots this week. Shipments arrived at some locations over the weekend, and some locations, including Walgreens in South Carolina and another in New York City, opened appointments for Monday.

Fletcher’s mother said that once her son is fully vaccinated, he can finally go bowling and visit a nearby children’s museum.

“He’s never really played with another kid before,” Mackenzie Pack said. “It will be a really big change for our family.”

She began taking appointments last week as US regulators move to fine-tune vaccines for children aged 6 months to 5 years.

“It’s just relief,” said Pack. “With this vaccine, it will be his best shot at being normal and having a normal childhood.”

The Food and Drug Administration flagged the Moderna and Pfizer Kids shot on Friday, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended them on Saturday. In the US, COVID-19 vaccines were first tested and given to health care workers and older adults in late 2020. Teens and school-age children were added last year.

Matthew Harris, an emergency room pediatrician at Northwell Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, said: “This is certainly an exciting moment in what has become a very long campaign to get people vaccinated against COVID-19. Has gone.”

Many parents are anxiously awaiting the rollout, and Harris said shots for their 9-month-old are “a matter of when, if not.”

About 18 million youth under the age of 5 are eligible.

“This is a huge step toward normalcy,” said Dr. Debra Langlois, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan Health CS Mott Children’s Hospital.

“We are two-plus years into this pandemic and there are things my 4-year-old has never been able to do,” Langlois said.

The family skipped a trip to Disneyland and a popular Michigan vacation island because the ferry ride to Mackinac Island would mean rendezvous with immaculate travelers.

President Joe Biden, public health officials and pediatricians applauded the moment. But he also acknowledged that it can be a challenge to get some parents on board, given the dismal vaccination rate among school-age children — around 30%.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association were among physician groups that encouraged doctors and families to vaccinate young children.

The CDC also recommends vaccination for people who already have COVID-19 to protect against reinfection, and says it’s OK to get other vaccines at the same time. For the youngest kids, there’s Pfizer’s three-shot series or Moderna’s two-shot.

In New York’s largely Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights, Dr. Juan Tapia Mendoza’s clinic has ordered 300 doses of vaccines of a total size. He said that they need educational material that directly addresses the misinformation being spread among parents.

His approach would be to tell parents that “if they were my kids, I would vaccinate them.”

“Because the virus is still around. A lot of people are still dying due to coronavirus children get infected and some children get seriously affected and no one wants to see the child very sick.

Some hospitals planned vaccination programs for later this week. Chicago is among places that offer COVID-19 shots at people’s homes and plans to open registration for at-home appointments for infants and other young children this week, a deputy commission from the city’s Department of Public Health said. , Maribel Chavez-Torres said.

Director of Pediatrics at National Jewish Health in Denver, Dr. Pam Zitland advises parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible.

Zitland said, “Some parents fear that the younger the child, the more vulnerable they may be to the side effects of the vaccine, but the study by Pfizer and Moderna found this not to be the case. Side effects of other childhood vaccines — fever, Those observed with irritability and fatigue were similar.

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AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson contributed.

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The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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