All Americans ages 6 months and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially endorsed the administration of the vaccines in all children below 5.
The public health agency issued a press release on Saturday, saying the eligibility for vaccination has been expanded to nearly 20 million additional children because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved for administration in children 6 months through 5 years of age.
CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, endorsed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendation that all children 6 months and above must receive a COVID-19 vaccine amid the ongoing pandemic.
The agency assured parents, guardians and caregivers that the vaccines have undergone and continue to undergo intensive safety monitoring, adding that they will help protect the children from the virus. The CDC also pointed out that even kids who already battled COVID-19 should get the jabs.
“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,” Walensky said.
“I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated,” she added.
The CDC indicated in its press release that the distribution of the vaccines for the kids across the country would start this week without giving a specific date. Meanwhile, CNN reported that vaccinations for the children would not begin until Tuesday in some places.
The agency also urged parents and caregivers to help monitor the safety of the vaccine doses for kids by signing their children up for v-safe—a personalized and confidential health monitoring system accessible via text messages and web surveys. Through this initiative, parents can share their experiences after their kids got vaccinated.
Days before the CDC’s statement, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel voted unanimously to back the authorization of the vaccines for kids, CBS News reported.
“Those trusted with the care of children can have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of these COVID-19 vaccines and can be assured that the agency was thorough in its evaluation of the data,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said.