California to roll out COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5

CHILDREN under the age of 5 years old will now be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

This comes after an independent panel of advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted last week to recommend vaccinating children ages 6 months to 5 years with two separate COVID-19 vaccines.

Under the emergency use authorization, children in the age group can receive either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the recommendation of the panel.

“We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can,” Walensky said in a statement. “I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”

Following the news, California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, and Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and State Public Health Officer, Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, issued a joint statement supporting the recommendation by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Although our youth are resilient, COVID-19 hospitalizations for children under 4 years old were five times higher during the Omicron surge than during Delta, and one in five children hospitalized with COVID-19 were also admitted to the ICU. COVID-19 has become one of the top five leading causes of death in children and vaccines make these deaths preventable. Studies have shown that getting our children vaccinated is the safest way to protect them from the worst outcomes of COVID-19, including hospitalization, long COVID, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), and death. Getting everyone in our homes and communities vaccinated reduces the chances for the virus to spread to those we love most,” they said.

The vaccine made by Moderna for 6-month-olds to 5-year-olds is a two-dose series, administered four weeks apart. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 6-month-olds to 4-year-olds is a three-dose series. The first two shots are given three weeks apart, and the third one eight weeks after the second shot.

The authorization will add young children aged 6 months through 4 years old to those eligible to get a Pfizer vaccine (ages 5-17 are already eligible), and children and adolescents aged 6 months through 17 years old to get a Moderna vaccine.

In alignment with California’s SMARTER Plan, the state is operationally ready to immediately begin administering vaccines for infants and toddlers aged 6 months and older this week. To find a vaccine, visit myturn.ca.gov or call 1-833-422-4255.

Parents can also talk to their child’s health care provider, or visit Vaccinate All 58 to learn more about the safe and effective vaccines available for all Californians aged 6 months and older. n

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