This is the moment that many parents have been looking forward to for months: Children under the age of 5 are now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine and are among the last Americans to qualify for the vaccine.
Without access to vaccines, parents of young children have been faced with an almost impossible choice since the start of the pandemic. Many children were kept out of school, family gatherings and other activities and deprived of normal childhood experiences. Now all this could change.
On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children 6 months of age and older. The decision means these young children will be vaccinated for the first time, possibly as early as Tuesday.
Sunny Baker, 35, a mother of two from Oxford, Mississippi, said she got her eldest daughter, 5-year-old Hattie Ruth, vaccinated as soon as possible and is looking forward to her 2-year-old daughter, Alma Pearl, receiving the vaccine. qualify.
“Yes Yes Yes! We would like to be first in line,” she said.
But Ms. Baker may well be in the minority: A recent Kaiser Health survey found that only one in five parents vaccinate their young children immediately. Many plan to abstain for the time being.
As the pandemic enters its third year and Americans are weighing the risks they are willing to live with, the CDC’s decision puts parents of young children in a difficult position.
Vaccines have lost some of their effectiveness against infection with new variants, although they still provide protection against severe illness and death. And huge numbers of Americans were infected during the Omicron surge, contributing to the mistaken belief of many that the battle was over.
Shift tips also contributed to the lack of enthusiasm. Daryl Richardson, 37, of Baltimore, said he had no plans to vaccinate his three children, in part because of constant changes in the recommended number of doses.
“First it was one shot, then a booster, and another booster,” he said.
After coping with the dangers of the pandemic with their children for so long, parents now face new questions, some so complex that even regulators and experts are baffled. What is the best vaccine? How well and how soon will they work? And why bother if most young children already exposed to the virus?
Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are considered safe for young children, and both produce blood levels of protective antibodies similar to those seen in young adults. But none of them provide the miraculous protection provided by vaccines for adults in the early days of a pandemic.