COVID vaccination campaign for infants and toddlers rolls out in the U.S.

Jun. 21, 2022 4:48 AM ETPfizer Inc. (PFE), BNTX, MRNABy: Yoel Minkoff, SA News Editor69 Comments

Putting plaster to a child after vaccination

portishead1/E+ via Getty Images

Pediatricians, children's hospitals and pharmacies across the U.S. will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines today to kids between 6 months and 5 years old, after the FDA and CDC authorized the jabs last week for the country's youngest children under emergency approval. Only 18% of parents say they will vaccinate their kids in the age group as soon as possible, according to recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, due to the lack of "enough information about the vaccines' safety and effectiveness." A similar dynamic played out after the shots opened to children aged 5 to 11 last November, with less than a third of that demographic getting vaccinated (compared to the 75% fully vaccinated U.S. population over the age of 12).

Snapshot: Parents of infants, toddlers and preschoolers will have the option of a three-dose regimen from Pfizer-BioNTech (NYSE:PFE) (NASDAQ:BNTX) that spans nearly three months, or a two-shot series from Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) that takes four weeks. The vaccines use the same mRNA technology given to adults, but differ in their dose sizes. Roughly 18M youngsters are eligible for the jabs, which were shown to have efficacy (in preventing COVID) of between 36.8% and 50.6% for Moderna's (MRNA) shot. Pfizer's (PFE) effectiveness was determined not to be reliable due to the low number of COVID-19 cases that occurred among study participants, though it was found to trigger a comparable immune response seen in adults.

According to the CDC, 480 children under the age of five have died from COVID-19 through May 2022, while more than 30,000 children in the U.S. have been hospitalized, making the disease more dangerous than flu for little kids. Some children can also have lasting symptoms known as "long COVID," while infections can spread within a household, or to adults that may be more vulnerable. The CDC is even advising vaccination for those who already had COVID-19 to protect against reinfection, with an estimated 75% of children showing evidence of having had the disease.

Not everyone is on board: While Florida doctors can get access through federal distribution channels, the state has been an outlier in not pre-ordering COVID vaccines for kids. Florida's Department of Health is recommending against giving coronavirus vaccines to healthy children, saying there is "very little benefit" for them and "certain risks may outweigh the benefits." Others that may be hesitant to jab their younger kids cite natural immunity, limited trial data based on small number of cases, questions about overall effectiveness and unknown long-term side effects from the vaccine.

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