The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized the first COVID-19 shots for infants and preschoolers — paving the way for vaccinations to begin as soon as next week.
The authorization, which still has to receive final approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, means American kids under 5 will now be eligible for the COVID vaccine — some 18 months after the shots first became available to adults.
Pfizer’s vaccine was authorized for children ages 6 months to 4 years, while the Moderna shot was given the green light for children ages 6 months to 17 years, according to the FDA.
The Pfizer shot had already been authorized for those over 5 years.
Children under 5 years — roughly 18 million youngsters — are the only age group in the US still unable to get the COVID vaccine.
The FDA’s action comes after its advisory panel unanimously recommended the Pfizer and Moderna shots for kids earlier this week.
“Many parents, caregivers and clinicians have been waiting for a vaccine for younger children and this action will help protect those down to 6 months of age,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement.
“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.”
While young children generally don’t get as sick from COVID-19 as older kids and adults, their hospitalizations surged during the Omicron wave.
Studies from both Moderna and Pfizer showed some side effects in youngsters, including fever and fatigue, were mostly minor.
The CDC’s vaccine advisers are set to discuss the vaccines for youngsters on Friday and a vote is scheduled for Saturday.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who will give the final sign-off, told a Senate hearing on Thursday that her staff would work over the Juneteenth federal holiday weekend “because we understand the urgency of this for American parents.”
Pfizer’s vaccine for those under 5 years is one-tenth of the adult dose and is administered in three shots.
Moderna’s is two shots — each a quarter of the adult dose — for youngsters.
With Post wires