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Michigan kids as young as six months can get COVID vaccine within days

child getting shot
Final approval Saturday for COVID-19 vaccines for young children makes an additional 19 million youngsters eligible for vaccination. It remains unclear how many parents are eager to sign their children up for shots, at least in the near term. (Shutterstock)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday gave final approval for the first coronavirus vaccines for children as young as six months, opening the door for toddlers and preschoolers to be vaccinated beginning early this week. 

One day after the Food and Drug Administration lent its support to giving vaccines to young children, scientific advisors to the CDC unanimously recommended approval Saturday. The action was then endorsed by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, formally making the two major U.S. vaccines available to 19 million children. 

The approvals were for a two-dose vaccine regimen from Moderna for children 6 months through 5 years old, and a three-dose regimen from Pfizer-BioNTech for children 6 months through 4 years old.

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“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.”    

It remains unclear how many parents of young children will sign up for the shots, at least immediately. A recent survey by KFF, formerly the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that fewer than 1-in-5 parents with children under age 5 intended to have their kids vaccinated “right away,” while 38 percent said they wanted to “wait and see” how it works for other young children.  

The first widely available COVID-19 vaccines for adults were distributed in December 2020, just 10 months after the pandemic began, an unprecedentedly short amount of time and considered a miracle of modern medicine and international cooperation among scientists and governments. 

The vaccines have been credited with saving over 1 million lives and preventing tens of millions of hospitalizations.

COVID-19 deaths among the young have been rare, though an FDA official said 442 children younger than  5 have died from COVID-19 through May, a higher toll than for other diseases like the flu.

In Michigan, demographic data shows that 16 children under age 10 have died from COVID-19, a rate of 14 for every 1 million. The disease has been far more deadly for the elderly. In Michigan, more than 13,000 people aged 80 and older have died, a rate of more than 31,000 per million.

An outside panel that advises the FDA unanimously approved the recommendation earlier in the week and the FDA leadership approved it Friday, leading to the CDC endorsement Saturday.

“As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement following the FDA’s emergency-use authorization.

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