It’s been 16 months since the first vaccine was authorized, and about six months since shots were approved for everyone age 5 and over — and yet our youngest children are still waiting for the same protection against COVID already available to the rest of us.

Enough already. It’s time to approve a vaccine for kids under 5 — and give exhausted families the peace of mind that’s been absent for more than two years.

There’s more than enough evidence showing the vaccines are safe and effective, even for young children. At this point in the pandemic, with all we know, it’s clear that the downside of any delay, and the hardships and stress it puts on families, far outweighs any other considerations.

The Biden administration, however, has shown no sense of urgency in getting it done. The FDA is sitting on valuable data, slowing their process to a crawl — just when mask mandates were dropped from schools and most people have stopped following COVID precautions.

Pfizer on Feb. 1 announced that it would seek authorization for its vaccine for kids under 5. However, two weeks later, the FDA wanted to wait for data on a third dose, and now Pfizer’s application won’t be taken up until June.

Moderna, too, has filed its application for emergency authorization for its vaccine for children under 5. The FDA won’t consider that one until June either.

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We understand the FDA has a process to follow, and for good reason: It’s important that people trust the vaccine.

But it’s also important that people have it when they need it, and for many parents of young children, they need it now.

COVID is still out there, and cases and hospitalizations are climbing. A lot of young children have little to no protection against the novel coronavirus, and while severe cases in young kids are rare, they have been more prevalent under the omicron variant, and there is still a lot that’s not understood about the virus’ long-term complications.

And besides, what parent wants to risk the health of their child when a vaccine might be right around the corner?

The FDA could have approved a two-dose Pfizer regimen, which was enough to offer some protection, while it continued to test whether a third dose was needed. And it could have fast-tracked the Moderna application rather than wait until June — no child in the Modera trial was hospitalized with COVID, and there are many parents who want that peace of mind.

The delays matter. Every day that goes by without a vaccine is another day that parents must carry the heavy burden of their young child’s health amid a pandemic.

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And every day, that gets harder, as more and more people resume regular activities with low levels of caution.

The Biden administration has to put those families first, and get them a vaccine as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 


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