Eighteen million kids under age 5 just became newly eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. For so many parents and caregivers, this means we can finally stop living in the early 2020 days of the pandemic, and stop managing the constant stress, decision fatigue, and guilt in protecting our children from a world that’s full of COVID-19 exposures.
Now that two COVID-19 vaccines for kids 6 months and older are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, I join so many of you in feeling sheer relief that it’s our youngest kids’ turn to get the best protection we can offer them against COVID-19.
I add my strong and unequivocal endorsement of these vaccines to that of these bodies. I recommend that all children receive a COVID-19 vaccine, alongside all routine immunizations, to prevent serious harms from COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, without the protections of a vaccine, almost 1,300 kids under the age of 19, including over 400 kids under age 5, have died from COVID-19 so far. COVID-19 has become one of the top five leading causes of death for kids — with disproportionate impacts seen in families who are Black, Latinx, and Native American. Many thousands of children have also ended up with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), long COVID, and post-COVID impacts like new-onset diabetes — which we are just beginning to understand.
After the FDA’s very careful and thorough review of the safety and efficacy vaccine data for children under age 5, I am confident that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5 are especially dosed for their younger bodies, are well tolerated, and they generate a strong and protective immune response. They are therefore likely to prevent serious harm from COVID-19 in the youngest among us, including preventing MIS-C, hospitalizations, deaths, and long COVID — and allow all families to finally embrace some normalcy and in-person connection.
I urge you to extend this protection to your littlest ones today — I plan to get my infant vaccinated as soon as I can.
Thanks to California’s SMARTER Plan, clinics and pharmacies are ready to immediately begin administering vaccines for infants and children aged 6 months and older starting this week. To find a vaccine appointment, visit MyTurn.ca.gov or call 1-833-422-4255.