/FDA authorizes COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5 | Fox Business

FDA authorizes COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5 | Fox Business

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday authorized COVID-19 vaccinations for the first time for children five years of age and younger.

Shots in the arms of roughly 18 million infants to preschoolers could begin as early as next week.

Prepared syringes with the vaccine from Moderna are ready at a vaccination site. (Frank Rumpenhorst/picture alliance via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The move comes after an advisory panel unanimously recommended the Moderna and Pfizer shots to protect the nation’s youngest from the deadly virus.

The change means that all children between the ages of six months to 17 years of age can receive either vaccine option, roughly a year and a half after it was first approved for adult use. 

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“Many parents, caregivers and clinicians have been waiting for a vaccine for younger children and this action,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, said in a statement Friday. “As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death.”

Registered nurse Marcie Weissman comforts a child ahead of his COVID-19 vaccination shot on May 13, 2021, in Houston.  (Brandon Bell/Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Friday announcement comes roughly a week after FDA authorized the Moderna vaccine for children ages six through 17, whereas only Pfizer had been previously approved for school-aged kids.

Vaccine advisors for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CCP) will next discuss and vote on the best practices to administer the vaccines to the nation’s youngest patients. 

A final signoff on the vaccine’s approval is expected to come from CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky Saturday.

A Jackson, Miss., resident receives a Pfizer booster shot from Linda Glenn, Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center nurse, at a vaccination station next to Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis / AP Newsroom)

The director told lawmakers during a Thursday Senate hearing that she and her staff will be working through the Juneteeth federal holiday weekend “because we understand the urgency of this for American parents.”

Walensky said that the number of pediatric deaths from the virus – which largely plagued adults and the elderly at the onslaught of the pandemic – have trended higher than figures seen from the flu. 

“I actually think we need to protect young children, as well as protect everyone with the vaccine and especially protect elders,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.