Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

FDA gives emergency approval for COVID-19 vaccines for kids as young as 6 months


Children as young as 6 months of age will soon be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They are the last age group to gain access to the vaccines. And as NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, public health officials say there's an urgent need to protect this population.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: While COVID-19 has been mostly mild in the vast majority of children, a significant number have died from the disease.

MATTHEW DALEY: Children at every age have died from COVID-19.

NOGUCHI: Dr. Matthew Daley is a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, and spoke at the virtual meeting yesterday. The CDC says COVID-19 has killed nearly 450 children aged 4 years and under.

DALEY: Among people ages 1 to 4 years of age, COVID-19 is the fifth most common of all causes of death.

NOGUCHI: Daley says the data from older kids and adults show clearly that vaccination prevents death. In fact, unvaccinated people 5 years and older were 10 times more likely to die from COVID than those who were vaccinated.

DALEY: Phrased in another way, these data provide real-world evidence that most deaths from COVID-19 are preventable through vaccination.

NOGUCHI: Scientists with vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer presented data showing that their shots are safe and effective for the youngest kids. Moderna's vaccine for the youngest age group contains two doses given four weeks apart. The Pfizer BioNTech version has three doses. The first two are given three weeks apart and the third eight weeks after the second shot. Pediatricians across the country are eagerly waiting for this.

JENNIFER SHU: We've had a lot of interest in the vaccine. Our phones have been ringing off the hook.

NOGUCHI: Dr. Jennifer Shu is a pediatrician in Atlanta and has already preordered both vaccines for her patients. She expects to receive shipments by Monday.

SHU: Then we will start making appointments whenever the shipment comes in and plan to start giving them on Tuesday.

NOGUCHI: Yuki Noguchi, NPR News.

KURTZLEBEN: NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee contributed to this report. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Science Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C. She started covering consumer health in the midst of the pandemic, reporting on everything from vaccination and racial inequities in access to health, to cancer care, obesity and mental health.