The Centers for Disease Control recently approved both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children as young as six months. Locally, Orange County vaccines for the young age group are available starting Monday and by appointment only at the Southern Human Services Center in Chapel Hill.

With the CDC approval on COVID-19 vaccines, almost everyone is now eligible to take their shot – including tots.

COVID-19 vaccines started roll out for most adults in March 2021. Vaccines began for children older 5 at the end of last year with adults receiving booster shots around the same time. It took another eight months for the youngest in the community to finally get a chance to be vaccinated – more than a year after their parents got their first shots.

Dr. David Weber, medical director of infection prevention at the UNC Medical Center, encouraged vaccinating children now rather than waiting until they’re older. Weber said its normal for vaccines for children to come slower.

“We start immunizing adults first,” Weber said. “They can give informed consent, make to themselves a risk benefit calculation and children are considered a more vulnerable group.”

Another factor in the delay in vaccine rollout for young children was determining the dosage. A 10-pound six-month old infant will require a different dosage than a 300-pound adult would.

“The doses are designed to be effective even in the youngest children,” Weber said. “They’re just lower dose, but [young children] also weight a lot less.”

He said there are many reasons to vaccinate children.

“COVID is the leading cause of death in the last two years of all children including those six months to four years of age,” Weber said. “Our children can get so-called long COVID, symptoms lasting more than 4 to 12 weeks with fatigue and other problems and some children get COVID about two weeks later – get the MISC syndrome which is a multi-inflammatory syndrome, often requiring hospitalization and sometimes leading to death.”

Weber stressed vaccines not only benefitting children but also vulnerable members of the family like grandparents or those who are immunocompromised.

The CDC did not give a preferential recommendation to either COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 5. Similar to the adult dosages the Moderna two-dose series is spread four weeks apart and the Pfizer two-dose series is three weeks apart.

Weber said whether these children will require a booster shot and when is still being researched.

“We have to learn to live with COVID,” Weber said. “It’s endemic, it’s not going anywhere. I do expect it will wax and wane particularly as we see more variants. Vaccines [are] still very highly protective against serious disease and hospitalization.”

To find a place to schedule a shot, click here.


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