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Kids under 5 years old can now be vaccinated against COVID-19

authentic shot of asian mother wearing face mask holds her baby for vaccinated by doctor
Ryan King
Stock Adobe
Mother wearing face mask holds her baby for vaccination by a doctor.

Children who are five years and under can now get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration authorized the use of the Pfizer vaccine for everyone six months and older and the Moderna vaccine for kids six months to five years of age.

On Tuesday, state health department secretary designee, Karen Timberlake, said many parents and guardians have been waiting to get their youngest kids vaccinated.

And as of Tuesday, Wisconsin reported 1,330 new cases, with a seven-day average of 1,415. There have been 13,100 confirmed COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Timberlake says the latest vaccine approvals are another step in protecting the state from COVID-19. "Getting your child vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 not only protects them, but also family, friends, and loved ones around them. It also protects them from getting really sick if they do get COVID-19 and keeps them in school, summer activities or childcare, as well as safely participating in sports, play dates and other group events."

Timberlake added that now is a good time to ensure your children are up to date with all of the vaccinations to prevent other diseases. She says COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time as others.

Dr. Smriti Khare, a pediatrician and chief mental and behavioral health officer of Children’s Wisconsin, told reporters she was excited that children under five years old can be vaccinated. And she called this moment monumental, saying that it’s about 300,000 kids who can now get the shots.

"We firmly believe that in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic the vaccines are very important and significant step to reduce the illness and in particular to reduce serious illness and death from the disease."

Khare says kids are not exempt from the harmful impacts of the virus. "We’ve certainly seen upwards of 13 million children who tested positive for COVID-19 across the country, but in particular I think we have to remember that this virus also has different variants, and you see the difference between the Delta variant and the Omicron variant."

Khare says with the Omicron variant children were hospitalized almost at a rate of five times greater than they were with the Delta variant. "So, children have had the illness, they've had hospitalizations because of the illness, and they have been pediatric deaths because of COVID-19."

Children can suffer from long COVID-19 symptoms too. One of the concerns is that the virus can cause multi-system inflammatory syndrome.

Khare estimates vaccinations will begin late this week or by early next week. The state ordered 48,500 doses divided between Pfizer and Moderna.

For parents and guardians looking to find out how to get their children vaccinated, health officials recommend speaking with the child’s primary doctor, calling 211 or going online tovaccines.gov.

Teran is WUWM's race & ethnicity reporter.
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