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Even Tiny Tots Should Get the Shot, Experts Say

Kids under age 5, the only age group still ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, may soon be permitted to get the shot, and parents have lots of questions, according to CNBC.

What’s going on: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee is set to meet on Feb. 15 to discuss a potential emergency use authorization for Pfizer and BioNTech’s child-size Covid vaccine, intended for kids ages 6 months to 5 years. On Tuesday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC he thinks “the chances are very high for FDA to approve it.”

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will begin distributing child-sized dosages, once approved, to state and local health officials by Feb. 21.
  • In December, Pfizer said that three doses will likely be needed to produce an immune response in small children, as two doses did not do so.

Why it matters: “During the first full week of January, the CDC charted 15.5 Covid-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 children under the age of 4. That’s a nearly seven-fold increase over the first full week of December, which saw only 2.4 hospitalizations per 100,000 children. Hospitalizations have since decreased to 6 per 100,000 children for the week ending on Jan. 29, according to the agency.”

  • While many children who do get COVID-19 have a mild illness, “some of them do not,” Dr. Juan Dumois, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, told CNBC. “[S]ome young children who catch severe cases of Covid require oxygen to breathe. Other children can develop a rare but serious post-Covid condition called MIS-C, a multisystem inflammatory syndrome that causes various body parts—including the heart, lungs, skin and eyes—to become severely inflamed.”

Founded concerns? Some people have concerns about possible long-term side effects from the vaccine showing up later in children’s lives, but this worry is not supported by vaccine history in general.

  • Dr. Mark Sawyer, an infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, told CNBC, “It hasn’t happened, ever.… So why would this vaccine suddenly be different?”

The final say: The benefits of the vaccine outweigh the potential side effects, said Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, a pediatrics and epidemiology professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine and College of Public Health.

  • She continued: Pfizer “has worked really hard to get the lowest dose that gives an immune response but keeps the side effects very low.”

Arm yourself: For information and resources about vaccines, visit the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute’s This Is Our Shot webpage.

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