Parents of the youngest age groups have been holding their breath waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine to be approved. On June 17, 2022, that approval came when the FDA authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months through 4 years. The authorization came after an FDA advisory committee unanimously recommended, with a vote of 21 to 0, that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines be approved.
According to JHSON Assistant Professor Deborah Busch, DNP, CPNP-PC, IBCLC, CNE, FAANP, a pediatric nurse practitioner and expert in pediatric primary care:
This means, that almost 20 million children will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, which is simply amazing to think. These children will benefit from vaccine protection and reduced risks of serious illness or death from COVID-19.
For some parents, there is still hesitation to get their children vaccinated. Differing guidance across states and the likelihood that their children were already exposed to the virus have left some unsure. But Busch says the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the known potential risks.
“Vaccine research for this age group, such as the 2/3 KidCOVE study, has demonstrated that children who received the vaccine had a comparable immune response that was consistent with what is seen in older children and adults. COVID-19 vaccines have undergone comprehensive—and continue to undergo—the most intensive and rigorous vaccine safety monitoring and research in U.S. history.”
Throughout the pandemic, Busch has advocated for children’s vaccines and improving accessibility by incorporating the shots into routine pediatric visits. In a Newsy interview last year, Busch said, “Adding a COVID vaccine to their schedule will be minimum, and we will be able to get that in their arms…hopefully very soon.” That time has now come.
It’s important to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is still occurring and that new subvariants continue to arise.
More than 87,644 new pediatric cases were reported in the U.S. during the week of June 9, with other age groups seeing similar increases. But Busch adds, even though hospitalizations continue to occur among children, deaths from Covid-19 are decreasing.
“There is much hope in the vaccines. They will help protect our youngest infants and children and may reduce serious illnesses, complications, and hospitalizations, especially in children with chronic conditions such as Asthma and immunodeficiency diseases. For added convenience, the Covid-19 vaccine can also be provided alongside other pediatric immunizations at the same visit, such as at a child’s regular well-visit.”
Busch encourages us all to reach out to our pediatric healthcare providers, local/state health departments, and/or local pharmacists to learn more about the importance of vaccinating and protecting our precious children.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DANIELLE KRESS
Danielle is Senior Public Relations Manager for the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She produces the On the Pulse podcast and connects journalists with the school of nursing community.