Vaccine rollout underway for children 5 and under

Coronavirus Vaccine

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The nation’s infants, toddlers and preschoolers are finally getting their chance at COVID-19 vaccination as the U.S. rolls out shots for tots Tuesday.

The Food and Drug Administration greenlighted the Moderna and Pfizer kid shots on Friday, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended them Saturday for children under 5 and as young as 6 months old.

The CDC advises vaccination even for those who already had COVID-19 to protect against reinfection, and says it is OK to get other vaccines at the same time. For the littlest kids, there’s Pfizer’s three-shot series or Moderna’s two shots.

In the U.S., COVID-19 vaccines were first tested and given in late 2020 to health care workers and older adults. Teens and school-age kids were added last year.

President Joe Biden is expected to visit a vaccine clinic in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday that’s offering vaccines to children under 5, then deliver remarks on what the White House says is “historic progress” that makes vaccines available for 17 million more Americans.

Americans are also waiting to get more guidance from Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House COVID-19 Response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on exactly where parents can take their kids to get these shots.

The rollout is going to involve local pediatrician’s offices, pharmacies and community clinics, much like the rollout for adults.

Some hospitals planned vaccination events later this week. Chicago is among locations that offer COVID-19 shots in people’s homes and planned to open registration this week for home appointments for infants and other young children, said Maribel Chavez-Torres, a deputy commissioner for the city’s Department of Public Health.

Health officials don’t anticipate a mad rush by parents to get their kids vaccinated. The Kaiser Family Foundation says 18% of parents of children under 5 say they’ll get their child vaccinated immediately now that the shots are available.

This rollout is happening as fewer Americans are dying from COVID-19. Still, people who are not vaccinated and vulnerable populations are still more likely to die from the virus.

Krystal Morgan, who lost her 15-year-old daughter to COVID-19, said the rewards of getting children vaccinated heavily outweigh the risk.

Her daughter died from myocarditis, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is inflammation of the heart muscle. It usually occurs after a virus, such as the one that causes COVID-19, affects the body, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“It was untreatable, we didn’t even catch it in time to treat it,” Morgan said.

Now, Morgan said she plans on getting her 5-year-old daughter, who was already vaccinated, a booster shot.

“I do plan on making sure that she’s vaccinated because this vaccine was not available when my 15-year-old contracted COVID and passed away,” Morgan said.

On the other hand, another mom, Rachel Lynn Means, isn’t planning on getting her children the vaccine, because she has concerns about what it could do to their development long-term.

“Their bodies are changing so much and growing,” she said. “You have to figure out what is going to work best for you, because you and your family are the ones that have to live with that decision.”

Despite their different views on vaccinating their families, both women agreed that it’s important to be respectful of others’ opinions.

“I do hope that we as Americans can come together and not let COVID cause more of a divide than we already have now,” Morgan said.

Means echoed this sentiment.

“Why can’t we just go back to respecting each other’s opinions and decisions and just leave it at that?” she said. “We can live in a world where we don’t all believe or do the same thing.”

To hear more about both women’s perspectives, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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