(NewsNation) — The federal government authorized the first COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of 5 Friday, opening the door for 18 million children to receive their first dose of the vaccine.
The authorization from U.S. regulators of the first COVID-19 shots for infants and preschoolers paves the way for vaccinations to begin next week. The Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization Friday follows a unanimous recommendation by its advisory panel. The kid-sized shots are made by Moderna and Pfizer.
The FDA’s action allows the companies to begin shipping millions of preordered doses across the country. A final signoff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected this weekend. The nation’s vaccination campaign began with adults in late 2020, about a year into the coronavirus pandemic.
With this authorization, however, come concerns from parents who worry about how a new vaccine might affect their children.
NewsNation interviewed Dr. Anthony Harris, CEO of HFIT Health, on Friday to address concerns a parent might have about vaccinating their child.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
NewsNation: What are the risks with this COVID-19 vaccine for children? Some parents we spoke with worried that the vaccine could cause their children to become sterile.
Dr. Anthony Harris: In regard to infertility, emphatically the answer is no. None of the vaccines that have been FDA authorized, including the ones that were just authorized, have been shown to cause infertility. This has been misinformation that was out there and we know it was out there in full force, saying the antibodies formed by the spike protein created by these MRNA vaccines could attack the placenta … that, emphatically again, is just not true.
Q: The FDA actually said the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks. Do you think that’s going to help parents decide whether to get vaccinated and vaccinate their children?
A: This is a personal question, even for myself and my wife who have a 20-month-old. We have a 5-year-old who we got vaccinated, and our son, 20 months old, we’ve been waiting. And the reason why we’re so eager to get him vaccinated is the same reason why parents should be lining up to get their children vaccinated, is because we still don’t know the long-term effects of COVID. We know COVID infections can cause long-term kidney effects, long-term pancreatic effects, it actually increases your risk for Type 1 diabetes, which has been reported as recently as January of this year.
Q: Is there a difference between the Moderna shot and the Pfizer shot?
A: The biggest difference between the two is really just the dosing schedule. This is what parents do need to pay attention to, particularly if you are planning to get your children vaccinated. Moderna has a two-hot dose schedule, it’s about one-tenth the adult dose, and it’s effective. Pfizer has three doses, so do not forget to get your child to get its effectiveness up there, which is as high as 80% in preventing symptomatic illness against COVID.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.