What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5

Parents of young children have eagerly awaited authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine series for children under 5 years old. We know you are worried about the health of your children and want to keep them safe. Below is the information you need about vaccines for children under 5 and ways to prevent COVID-19 infection.

Why are parents eager to get their young children vaccinated?

There are over 460,000 children under the age of 5 in Washington. Although they don’t get serious cases of COVID-19 as often as adults, COVID-19 can still be serious, deadly, or cause long-term effects in children. Much is still unknown about the effects of long-term COVID-19 in children. Even children who have mild cases of COVID-19 infection can develop long-term symptoms that could make it difficult for your child to attend school and perform daily activities. Many families have continued social distancing and taken stricter safety measures because young kids in the household cannot be vaccinated yet. It will bring peace of mind knowing kids are protected and allow families to start getting back to social activities again.

Getting vaccinated is your child’s and your family’s best defense against COVID-19 infection.

Why has it taken so long to get a vaccine for young children?

There are currently COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 and older, but not for kids younger than that. However, that could change soon.

In October 2021 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 5 and over. Pfizer-BioNTech was developing a two-dose vaccine for children under 5 but that was postponed in February 2022 to collect more data about a potentially more effective three-dose series.

When will a vaccine be available for children under 5?

The FDA will decide the vaccine authorization details for children under 5 on June 15. Then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet June 17 and 18 to review the FDA’s information and possibly make a recommendation on the use of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for young children, and on use of the Moderna vaccine for children 6 and up. Following the ACIP meeting, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup will meet to say whether they agree with the recommendation. If they do, the vaccine will then be available in Washington state for the new age groups.

However, even after it is recommended, the vaccine will not be immediately available to the public. Your health care provider may not have a stock of the vaccine for children under 5 until June 21 or later. Once it is available your child will be able to receive the vaccine wherever you prefer: at their pediatrician’s office, at a vaccine clinic, or at a pharmacy. Visit the Washington Vaccine Locator to learn where to get your child vaccinated. You can sort through the list by age group.

Will the vaccine be safe for children under 5?

Because the FDA authorization process is thorough, you can rest assured that the recommended vaccine series will be the safest and most effective option for children under 5 years old. Vaccines have successfully protected young children from diseases for hundreds of years.

While you wait for a vaccine to be authorized, you can keep your children safe from COVID-19 infection in other ways.

We know you want to do everything you can to keep your children safe, happy, and healthy. While you wait for your child’s turn to get vaccinated, there are several proven strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 to your family:

  • Everyone ages 5 and up should wear face masks in crowded public spaces.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • All eligible family members should get vaccinated and stay up to date on recommended booster doses. The COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone 5 years of age and older.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you feel sick, had contact with someone who was sick with COVID-19, or plan on attending a large gathering. Free at-home test kits are available here.
  • Use the WA Notify app to monitor possible exposure.
  • If you test positive, stay home and follow isolation guidelines.

More information

This blog is accurate as of the date of posting. Information changes rapidly, so check the state’s COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date info at coronavirus.wa.gov. You can also sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

The COVID-19 vaccine is currently available to everyone 5 and older. You can get vaccinated even if you don’t have insurance and regardless of your immigration or citizenship status. For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your phone today: WANotify.org

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington State may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

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