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Vaccines for children under 5 a turning point for many US families
04:14 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Dr. Sarah Schaffer DeRoo described in one word how she felt after getting her 7-month-old son vaccinated against Covid-19: thrilled.

Her active baby boy sat in her lap at a vaccine clinic hosted by Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, while receiving his first dose of Covid-19 vaccine. The shot was administered in his thigh. He cried for a few seconds but then his attention turned toward a golden retriever that was on site as a comfort dog provided by the hospital.

“I’m feeling really thrilled that we have this opportunity,” DeRoo, a pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux on Tuesday about her son’s vaccination.

DeRoo added that her family now will feel more comfortable participating in certain activities, knowing that their youngest son has started his Covid-19 vaccine series.

“It will certainly allow us to have more freedom with our personal lives and what we do,” DeRoo said. “And for the baby, we’ll feel like we have cloaked him in as much protection as we can.”

Covid-19 vaccinations for children younger than 5 are beginning Tuesday across the United States, marking a milestone in the nation’s fight against the disease.

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorizations for Moderna’s vaccine to include children 6 months through 17 years and Pfizer/BioNTech’s for children 6 months through 4 years.

Then on Saturday, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on Covid-19 vaccinations for children under 5, clearing the way for vaccinations to be administered in that age group.

About 17 million kids under the age of 5 are now eligible for Covid-19 vaccines.

“This is a big day. We’ve been waiting a long time for children to have access to the vaccine. We now have every age group, 6 months and above, in the country which is now eligible to get protection from the Covid-19 vaccine. And I’ll tell you as a dad of a 4-year-old, this is a big deal for my family as well,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Tuesday morning.

As of the end of Tuesday, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) has delivered approximately 2.7 million doses of vaccine for children under 5 nationwide.

“Another 1 million doses have been shipped and will soon be received by administration sites,” Tim Granholm, an HHS spokesperson, wrote in an email to CNN on Wednesday morning.

“HHS has received orders for approximately 4.2 million doses to date,” Granholm wrote. “We will continue to deliver vaccines expeditiously as we fulfill orders and take new ones. We made 10 million doses of vaccine available for ordering initially, with millions more available soon, so supply should not be a barrier to someone getting their young child vaccinated.”

Vaccines given in child-sized doses

Under the FDA’s authorization, the Moderna vaccine can be given as a two-dose primary series, with doses given four weeks apart, at 25 micrograms each dose, to infants and children 6 months through 5 years of age.

While the FDA has authorized Moderna’s vaccine for children ages 6 to 17, the CDC has not yet recommended it for that age group, so those shots can’t be administered yet. The FDA authorization would allow children ages 6 to 11 to receive doses are 50 micrograms each. For those ages 12 and older, it would be administered as 100-microgram doses.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine now can be given as a three-dose primary series, at 3 micrograms each dose, for use in infants and children 6 months through 4 years. The vaccine is administered as a two-dose primary series at 10 micrograms per dose for children 5 to 11 and at 30 micrograms per dose for adolescents and adults ages 12 and older.

Completing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine series is a longer process, as the first two doses are administered three weeks apart, and then the third dose is given eight weeks later.

Dr. Jeannette Lee of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, who serves on the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee, expressed concern about children not completing all three doses.