Children as young as 6 months old can now get a Covid-19 shot after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave approval last week.
At the White House Tuesday, President Joe Biden called the vaccination of young children a “monumental step forward” in the fight against Covid-19, which has killed more than 1.1 million people in the United States.
Children age 6 months to 5 years will get a smaller vaccine dose than any other age group, state health officials said. Booster shots are currently not approved for this age group.
Mecklenburg County Public Health immunization clinics (Northwest Health Department and Southeast Health Department) will accept walk-in vaccinations for children starting Thursday. Business hours are below:
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The FDA has approved two vaccines — Moderna and Pfizer — for young children.
Atrium Health will administer both vaccines starting this week. Parents can book appointments through their pediatrician, online or through the MyAtrium app.
Kevin Buckley, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Levine Children’s Hospital, spoke with reporters on Monday to answer questions.
Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Why did it take so long for vaccination to be available for this age group?
There has not been ever a concern for the safety of the vaccines in the age group but because this was our younger kid group, we wanted to be sure that it was going to be as efficacious as it was in the older children and adults.
Are parents open to getting their younger children vaccinated?
I definitely have families in that age group that are really excited that this is available and have been asking for months when it was going to be available for kids in that age group. I expect there to be some hesitancy just because there has been across all age groups. Any concerns or questions about the vaccine, I would encourage people to bring it to their providers so they can talk through them.
Can this vaccine be administered at the same time as other vaccinations?
Previously, there were some recommendations as far as separating out Covid vaccines in adults from other vaccinations but that had gone away. I have not seen anything come out with children of this age group with a different recommendation than that.
How many doses are needed?
The Moderna vaccine is now available in a two-dose series. The Pfizer vaccine is a three-dose series.
What side effects could affect kids may have?
Most of the reactions that have been reported are similar to other vaccinations where you can run low-grade fevers or some muscle ache or soreness. In the younger children under two years of age, there was some fussiness after the vaccine but not any significant safety concerns.
What do you say to the parents of the kids in this age group who don’t think their kids need the vaccine?
Fortunately, our younger kids have certainly done better overall than adults have, but there have been over 400 children in this age group that have died from Covid during the pandemic. That’s not counting the thousands that I have hospitalized.
Once the vaccine becomes available, how long is the waiting period for kids in this age group?
There is no specific waiting period except for being out of isolation from Covid at the time of vaccination.
Previous vaccines have been said to be more effective for one variant compared to others. Does this vaccine target a specific variant?
I don’t believe there is a large difference between this vaccine and the vaccine that has been used previously. I know a lot of companies are looking at newer variants for this vaccine but it will still give protection against Covid.