The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Saturday that children as young as six months old receive Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
The move follows a unanimous vote earlier in the day by an advisory panel of outside experts known as Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP.
The unanimous recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices followed the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the shots on Friday.
“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19. We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in a statement.
Shots could be offered at pharmacies and other providers as soon as Monday.
“I have the ability with my vote today to save more lives than my particular decisions with extremely sick children have saved throughout my career,” said Sarah Long, a professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine and a committee member.
For a subset of parents and guardians with children under the age of 5, the vaccines have been eagerly anticipated for months — a tool, like the first inoculations for adults, for restoring their lives to a sense of normalcy. During a public comment period for the hearing Friday, parents shared stories of kids who haven’t been able to visit grandparents or spoke aspirationally about doing basic things they read about in books, like going to the aquarium.
Yet it remains unclear how many families will elect to vaccinate their kids. Although CDC officials spent two days presenting data on the risk Covid-19 poses to kids — in terms of severe disease, the rare inflammatory condition known as MIS-C, and potential long Covid — much of the public messaging over the past two years has emphasized that kids are unlikely to become gravely ill from the virus.
Pfizer’s Covid vaccine has been available for all adolescents since May 2021 and to children 5 to 11 since October, but only 59% of children ages 12 to 17 and 29% of children 5 to 11 have gotten two doses of the vaccine.