U.S. COVID-19 vaccine rollout for young children will pick up pace

The rollout in the United States this week of COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as six months old is expected to start slowly and then resume in the coming days, according to White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized Moderna Inc’s MRNA.O vaccine for children aged six months to five years, and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children aged six months to four years.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the injections on Saturday, allowing the rollout to begin.

While many parents in the United States are eager to get their children vaccinated, it’s unclear how strong the demand for vaccines will be. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was licensed for children ages 5 to 11 in October, but only about 29% of that group is fully vaccinated so far, according to federal data.

Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy, on CNN television on Tuesday, advised parents to take the virus seriously, saying nearly 500 children had died and more than 30,000 children under the age of 5 had been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic.

“It’s hard to predict which kids have problems. About half of those kids who had problems with COVID didn’t have any underlying symptoms,” Murthy said. “That’s why every child deserves to be protected. We want parents to seriously consider this vaccine.”

In a Twitter thread on Monday, Jha said the rollout for young children differed from other age groups in that there were no mass vaccination sites, but there would be more inoculations. performed in doctors’ offices.

“Parents are clear that they want to have their little ones vaccinated in familiar settings – doctor’s offices, pharmacies, health clinics and children’s hospitals,” he tweeted.

Jha said vaccines could only be shipped once cleared and that Monday being a federal holiday, many doctors’ offices and children’s hospitals were likely to receive vaccines on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Not all pharmacies will offer injections to everyone in this age group. CVS Health Corp will offer injections for children aged 18 months and older, while Walmart Inc and Rite Aid Corp will offer them for those aged 3 and older.

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru, Katherine Jackson in Washington DC; edited by Caroline Humer and Bernadette Baum


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