(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued recommendations for vaccinating children 5 years of age and younger against COVID-19. The recommendation clears the way for the nearly 241,000 Utah children in this age group who are now eligible to get vaccinated.
Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized both the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines for use with all ages (6 months and older) eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. Previously, only the Pfizer vaccine was available for children younger than 18.
Vaccines for this youngest age group will begin to arrive in Utah the week of June 20th. The first batch of doses is expected early in the week and another batch of doses is expected later in the week. According to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), providers have already ordered 32,300 doses of the vaccines.
Providers such as local health departments, select pharmacies, and doctor’s offices will begin offering vaccinations to the youngest Utahns over the next several days to weeks. “We encourage parents to reach out to their child’s healthcare provider if they have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and to find out when they can get their children vaccinated. Please be patient with vaccine providers over the next couple of weeks as they receive vaccines and prepare to administer them to our youngest children,” said Dr. Leisha Nolen, a pediatrician and the state epidemiologist at the DHHS.
A list of vaccine providers is available on the state’s coronavirus webpage. Vaccines will not be available for this youngest age group at all locations right away. Parents can visit vaccines.gov to verify which providers have younger pediatric vaccines available or call their child’s doctor’s office or local health department for information on scheduling a vaccination.
Vaccine dosage is based on the brand of the vaccine and a person’s age the day they receive the vaccine, not weight. Depending on the type of vaccine given, children younger than 5 may need 2 or 3 doses.
- Pfizer vaccine: Children ages 6 months through 4 years of age will need 3 doses to complete their primary vaccine series. The 2nd dose should be given 21 days after the 1st dose and then a 3rd dose 2 months after the 2nd dose.
- Moderna vaccine: Children ages 6 months through 5 years of age will need 2 doses to complete their primary vaccine series. The 2nd dose should be given at least 28 days after the 1st dose.
“We strongly encourage healthcare providers to familiarize themselves with the CDC recommendations and begin immunizing these children immediately,” said Nolen. “Doctors, and especially pediatricians, will play a critical role in vaccinating this population. We hope doctors will proactively reach out to their patients with the information they need to make the decision to vaccinate their children.”
The DHHS is also launching a public awareness campaign with television commercials, digital videos, radio commercials, social media advertising, and outdoor advertising encouraging parents to talk to their child’s doctor about the vaccine.
“The clinical trials showed these vaccines are safe for young children and can prevent them from getting sick or suffering from long-term impacts of COVID-19,” said Nolen. “Children have not been exempt from this pandemic. The Omicron wave this winter sent a number of our very youngest kids to the hospital; one-quarter of whom ended up in intensive care. Most tragically, COVID-19 has killed more children younger than 5 than flu would during 2 normal flu seasons. I think we can all agree, this is tragic. We need to help keep kids out of the hospital and now we can through vaccination. ”