COVID Vaccinations for Kids Under 5 to Begin This Month in U.S.: CDC

The United States plans to begin distributing vaccines this month for children under age 5, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Jurisdictions around the country should begin preparations for child vaccinations, the CDC announced on Wednesday. It advised ordering shipments as soon as possible so that the vaccines can begin being distributed as soon as February 21 for high-risk children. The news comes as over 12 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in children in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to be distributed first, with Moderna's vaccine for children under 5 still being developed. According to Reuters, it is a smaller dosage of its current vaccine at a 3-microgram dose. For comparison, the dose for 5- to 11-year-olds is 10 micrograms, while the dose for those 12 and up is 30 micrograms.

Pfizer's vaccine was previously on a rolling submission basis with the CDC. While the current vaccine is two doses, the company said in a February 1 statement that "data on a third dose given at least 8 weeks after completion of the second dose is expected in the coming months."

During the week ending on February 3, about 632,000 cases of COVID in children were reported, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Between 1.6 percent and 4.7 percent of all hospitalizations across the U.S. due to COVID-19 consist of children, as well. While deaths are uncommon among children infected with COVID-19, about 0.24 percent of children who test positive for the virus have reportedly died.

Many parents of children under 5 have been waiting for vaccination for their children. Newsweek reported that a 15-month-old died of COVID-19 in January. Another child, who was less than a year old, was the youngest person to die from the virus that same month. While the vaccine will not be able to be given to newborns, any baby more than 6 months old will be eligible to receive it.

Newsweek reached out to Pfizer-BioNTech for comment.

Update 2/9/22, 3:41 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to add more background information on COVID-19 cases in children.

Child, COVID vaccine
Children under 5 years old could begin receiving COVID vaccinations as early as February 21, 2022. SeventyFour/Getty Images