‘Huge relief’: Parents, doctors ready to start vaccinating kids under 5

SPOKANE, Wash. — Your youngest kids could receive a COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week. The FDA announced on Wednesday that both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s child-dose vaccines are safe for kids under five.

This applies to 18 million kids whose parents have been waiting for the announcement. Doctors say this is a step in the right direction to kick off summer plans knowing more family members will extra protection.

Local pediatricians say as more kids get together and people are vacationing this summer, they do expect COVID transmission to increase. Doctors are confident vaccinating kids as young as six months old will go a long way to keep everyone safe.

“I’m really looking forward to the chance to get him vaccinated,” said Amanda Howard-Phillips. She’s a mom to two young boys. One is already vaccinated because he’s 8-years-old. Her other toddler hasn’t been eligible, until this announcement.

This update is long-awaited for Howard-Phillips because now her whole family can get vaccinated. It’s been hard for them to adjust to looser restrictions since one of her kids still didn’t have the extra protection.

“As restrictions have lifted, and people have kind of started to go about life more normal, it’s been hard because we’ve felt a little left behind,” she said.

Local pediatricians say this is a common theme they’ve seen in families.

“A lot of the restrictions have been lifted, so families are going to want to have these family get togethers, trips and things like that,” said Dr. Jennifer Kalisvaart, a pediatrician with Spokane Pediatrics. “There’s kind of a stress that these families have because their younger children are not able to be vaccinated yet, so I think that’ll be a huge relief to them.”

Dr. Kalisvaart wants families to know our youngest are still extremely vulnerable to COVID infections.

“The under 5 group is still at very high risk of serious complications and hospitalizations from COVID,” she said.

During the omicron wave, the CDC says hospitalizations for kids under 5 hit their the highest level of the pandemic.

“It’s something that does scare me as a mom,” Howard-Phillips added.

She can’t wait to sign Arthur up for his first COVID vaccine and kick off a summer of fun.

“Then we can get back to doing play dates and birthday parties and all those things that we’ve missed for over two years,” she concluded.

If you’re still considering the vaccine for your youngest child, you aren’t alone. Kaiser Family Foundation says only 1 in 5 parents plan to get their youngest children vaccinated immediately. Others still want to wait a bit. Dr. Kalisvaart says it’s important to talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about the COVID vaccine.

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