DOVER, DE (June 18, 2022) – Parents of children ages 6 months through 5 years old, will be able to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 starting the week of June 20, 2022, according to the Division of Public Health (DPH). Vaccines for this youngest age group received final sign off for Emergency Use Authorization, from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Friday, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today.
Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were authorized for this age group, with slight differences between the two. Moderna’s is a two-dose series of vaccine, which is one-quarter the adult dosage, for children ages 6 months through 5 years old. Estimated effectiveness varies based on age. The Pfizer vaccine is a three-dose primary series that is one-tenth the adult dosage and is authorized for children 6 months through 4 years old, as their vaccine for 5-year-olds is already approved. It has an estimated effectiveness of 80% after the third dose.
Side effects were generally mild, and no serious side effects were identified. For Moderna, the most commonly reported side effects across all ages included pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fever and underarm swelling/tenderness at the injection site. For Pfizer side effects included irritability, decreased appetite, fever, headache, chills and pain, tenderness, redness and swelling at the injection site.
DPH has included a convenient chart on de.gov/youthvaccine explaining the differences between the two vaccines.
Initial shipments of Pfizer and Moderna are set to arrive in Delaware on Monday, June 20, 2022, and are going to medical providers who pre-ordered either one, or both of them. Not all providers pre-ordered vaccine initially. While some providers may be ready to start administering as soon as June 21, 2022, others have indicated they will begin later. DPH strongly recommends that parents contact their pediatric health care provider for specifics on scheduling and timing. Parents are encouraged to visit de.gov/youthvaccine for a list of providers offering vaccines. Supply and access will increase as the week goes on.
“We are incredibly happy and relieved that a COVID-19 vaccine will now be available to our youngest population starting at 6 months old,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We recognize the concern that parents with young children have faced waiting for the vaccine to become available as they look for ways to protect their youngest from this virus. It is our hope that parents will consult with their child’s provider or the appropriate medical facility to determine the best option for them.”
Vaccines will be available from pediatricians/primary care providers, DPH clinics, and Federally Qualified Health Centers. In addition to DPH clinics, a few additional providers have agreed to vaccinate non-patients. That information will be added to de.gov/youthvaccine as it becomes available.
Pharmacies will also vaccinate infants and children in this age group. However, it is important for families to know that not all will vaccinate children under age 3. Locate participating pharmacies at vaccines.gov. The database has added a feature which allows pharmacies to enter the lowest age they are willing to vaccinate and should show up when parents search for a vaccine for this youngest age group.
While children and adolescents are typically at lower risk than adults of becoming severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, during the Omicron surge (Winter 2021-22), their rates of illness increased. During the winter Omicron surge, infants and children under 5 years of age were hospitalized with the virus at approximately five times the rate they were during the Delta surge (Fall 2021), a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently found. Additionally, severe COVID-19 outcomes are unpredictable and can occur in healthy children. The risk is higher in those with underlying health conditions. According to data from the CDC, 64% of hospitalizations in children under 5 years occur in those without comorbidities. Lastly, COVID-19 can cause additional long-term illness in children. Between three and six percent of children with COVID-19 report continued symptoms for more than 12 weeks.
Parents or guardians with questions about which vaccine is right for their child should consult their pediatric provider or family doctor/health care provider. It is anticipated that most parents will turn to pediatric providers to vaccinate infants and children in this age group.