By Ashley Ziegler
It’s been more than two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in America, and parents of young children and babies can finally breathe a sigh of relief because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved vaccines for little ones as young as 6 months old.
On June 17, 2022, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the two-dose Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to include children aged 6 months through 17 years old (previously, it had only been authorized for people 18 years old and up), as well as the EUA for the three-dose Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) COVID-19 vaccine to include children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years old (it had previously been authorized for anyone 5 years old and up). These approvals come after Pfizer submitted its application for amendment back in February of 2022, followed by Moderna’s submission in April of 2022.
In the days following these approvals, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have released official statements recommending the COVID-19 vaccine for eligible individuals within this age group (as well as all other previously approved age groups).
How We Got Here
This latest round of authorizations has been long-awaited, not only by parents but also by pediatricians, public health experts, and anyone who has been diligently doing their part to put an end to this pandemic since it began in early 2020. While the COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for teens and adults since December of 2020 (Pfizer’s vaccine for ages 16+ and Moderna’s vaccine for ages 18+), it has been a long, slow progression to get to the place we are now, where nearly everyone has access to protection from the COVID-19 virus.
It wasn’t until May of 2021 that Pfizer’s vaccine was approved for use in adolescents between 12 and 15 years old, and it was more than five months later that the FDA finally authorized the vaccine for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 years old. Meanwhile, parents of the 18 million kids under 5 years old in the U.S. have been desperately trying to keep their little ones masked because there haven’t been many other means of protection for this vulnerable age group. To date, more than 2 million kids under age 5 have tested positive for COVID-19 (which is likely an underestimate), more than 400 have died as a result of the virus, and many that have survived have gone on to suffer complications including long-haul COVID (aka: long COVID) and multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).
Now, with the latest Pfizer and Moderna vaccine authorizations, parents of young children can finally begin to worry a little less about the virus, and all of the scary potential side effects. Not to mention, now that nearly everyone has the option to get vaccinated, we are so much closer to reaching herd immunity. Finally, there is a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.
Where to Find a Vaccine
Shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for kids are currently being shipped to health care providers and pharmacies across the country, so if there aren’t any in your area yet, it probably won’t be long before they arrive. As with all previously approved vaccines, these shots are free to anyone in the U.S., regardless of whether or not you have health insurance.
To locate one for your child, start with your pediatrician’s office, and if they’re not stocked up yet, try nearby pharmacies (though, pharmacies vary in what age range they will administer vaccines). If you’re still not having any luck, you can use the online Vaccine Finder page that has been set up by the federal government.
Now, once you have your child’s vaccination appointment set up, let yourself relax a little–because we finally made it!