Utah’s youngest kids should be able to get COVID-19 vaccine next week

Jun 17, 2022, 5:00 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 9:25 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Kids as young as 6 months old should be able to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the middle of next week. This is an eagerly awaited opportunity for many parents and an issue of concern for others.

Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and director of epidemiology at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, said parents will want to talk this decision over with their healthcare providers.

“We expect the first doses to be available in Utah by the middle of the week,” Pavia said Friday in a video news conference.

Final approval from the CDC is expected soon for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for kids 6 months to 5 years old.

“This is really a big step,” Pavia said. “We’ve had several months now in which there’s been a lot of disease out there, and younger children have not had any vaccine availability to provide them protection.”

The pediatrician said the health department will emphasize distributing the vaccine to pediatricians and family doctors. That way parents can get their kids vaccinated where they are comfortable.

“For many parents, having the option to get your kids vaccinated is something that they’ve been eagerly waiting for. It’s something that every parent has to decide for themselves,” he said.

FDA authorizes 1st COVID-19 shots for infants, preschoolers

The doses will be smaller than those given to adults, while the side effects will be somewhat similar — with the potential for swelling, fever and flu-like symptoms.

“COVID poses actually a much bigger risk to your child than any of the diseases that you routinely bring them in to get vaccinated for,” Pavia said.

Early in the pandemic, children were not as heavily impacted by COVID. But last fall, the delta variant sickened more kids, and the omicron variant hit kids pretty hard last winter.

Nearly two million kids ages one to four have been diagnosed with COVID. Fortunately, not a lot of children die from COVID, but kids have been hospitalized.

This summer, Pavia said, they have anywhere from six to 12 kids hospitalized with COVID on any given week.

“The vaccines work at least as well as they do in adults,” he said.

He believes parents should make their decision about getting their kids vaccinated after talking it over with their healthcare provider. But, he said, if he had kids in that age group, he would get them vaccinated because there is still infection in the community.

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Utah’s youngest kids should be able to get COVID-19 vaccine next week