COVID-19 vaccine is stored at -80 degrees Celsius on Dec. 18, 2020, in the pharmacy at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized emergency use of two COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, moving the country one step closer to having shots for all age groups.
The decision leaves just one hurdle, a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, before parents can begin getting babies and toddlers vaccinated against the virus. That CDC decision is expected this weekend.
“As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death,” FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said in a statement.
“Those trusted with the care of children can have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of these COVID-19 vaccines and can be assured that the agency was thorough in its evaluation of the data.”
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The FDA’s decision to grant emergency use requests for a two-dose Moderna shot and a three-dose Pfizer vaccine came two days after its outside panel of advisers unanimously voted on Wednesday to recommend use of the two vaccines.
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha said earlier this month that the federal government would begin shipping the vaccines to states as soon as the FDA granted the emergency use authorization.
He expects shots can begin next week as long as the CDC issues its recommendation over the weekend.
The Biden administration made 10 million doses of vaccine for kids under 5 available for states during a two-week pre-ordering period that closed Tuesday.
States, tribes, territories, pharmacies and other federal partners ordered 2.5 million Pfizer doses, about 50% of those available, and 1.3 million Moderna doses, about 25%, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Jurisdictions will have an opportunity to order additional doses if and when the vaccines are authorized by FDA and recommended by CDC,” an HHS spokesperson said in a statement.
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