US opens COVID vaccine to little kids; shots begin this week
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. on Saturday opened COVID-19 vaccines to infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
The shots will become available this week, expanding the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as 6 months.
Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the vaccines for the littlest children, and the final signoff came hours later from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency’s director.
“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.
While the Food and Drug Administration approves vaccines, it’s the CDC that decides who should get them.
The shots offer young children protection from hospitalization, death and possible long-term complications that are still not clearly understood, the CDC’s advisory panel said.
The government has already been gearing up for the vaccine expansion, with millions of doses ordered for distribution to doctors, hospitals and community health clinics around the country.
Roughly 18 million kids will be eligible, but it remains to be seen how many will ultimately get the vaccines. Less than a third of children ages 5 to 11 have done so since vaccination opened up to them last November.
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