After several months of delays, children under 5 years of age should receive the vaccine next week.
The FDA and CDC are expected to approve Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for young children in the next few days. On Wednesday, the FDA panel recommended that both vaccines be allowed.
Vaccines for young children have been delayed because neither company has provided the full data needed for FDA approval, a senior agency official previously hinted. White House adviser Anthony Fauci also suggested at one point that the FDA wanted to wait to review both vaccines at the same time because it feared that allowing them at different times could confuse parents. (This newsletter was critical of the government’s mixed messages.)
But now any parent – and child – who has been waiting for a vaccine can finally see the end point. This is potentially a large group: nearly 20 million children under the age of 5 in the US. stay safe from Covid until a vaccine is available.
Parents described the expectation to The Times in cruel terms, my colleagues Sharon LaFraniere and Emily Erdos reported: “I almost lost my job and my sanity.” “Half of my income.” “The hardest time of my life.” “I feel helpless and hopeless.” “Extremely lonely; I’m crying as I write this.” “Every cough makes me nervous.”
On the one hand, the vaccine approval will be big news: it means that everyone in the US who will ever qualify for a Covid vaccine will be able to get one. (Vaccinations will not be available for children under 6 months of age, but this characteristic of many vaccines.)
Permits can cause ripple effects in American life. More parents may decide to return to offices. Kindergartens and schools can relax quarantine and isolation rules. More young children will be able to play with friends and do sports or other activities without a mask.
While vaccines reduce the risk of severe outcomes for children, they may not change the trajectory of Covid hospitalizations and deaths much. Even without vaccinations, children in general are at little risk of severe Covid outcomes. The soon-to-be-eligible age group accounted for less than 0.1 percent of confirmed Covid deaths in the US.
There are also many doubts among parents about vaccinations. Only every fifth parent of children under 5 plans to vaccinate their child right away, Recent Poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
This may partly be due to the dynamics we have seen with adult Covid vaccines: Many people are willing to wait and see how vaccines work for others before they vaccinate themselves or loved ones.
But the deep concerns of some parents about Covid may have dissipated as the impact of the virus on the lives of Americans as a whole has diminished. And many parents may think that vaccines are unnecessary because children have a low risk of severe Covid.
Vaccines for young children may not really help end the pandemic, even though vaccinations are helping more people get back to normal. Preventing the worst of the pandemic continues to come down to protecting the most vulnerable, especially the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. This means not only introducing more vaccines and boosters, but also ensuring that the antiviral Paxlovid, the prophylactic Evusheld and other treatments are widely available.
January 6 Hearing
War in Ukraine
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Modern love: Flirting distracted me at a difficult moment – and then became something more.
Classic Times: How a high school casting dispute turned into a culture war firestorm.
Tip from Wirecutter: The best shoe rack ever.
Lives lived: Duncan Hanna vividly captured the New York City club and art scene of the 1970s and became a respected artist in the 80s. He died at the age of 69.
ART AND IDEAS
Sunday is June. The holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery became a broader celebration of the freedom of African Americans. That includes smaller freedoms, writes chef and author Nicole Taylor, like being able to take breaks to rest and pamper yourself.
In a new June Day cookbook, Taylor outlines festive dishes, from gourmet to simple: a chef symposium in Austin, a rooftop party with friends, a swamp day in the Georgia woods.
“Over the years, June 19 has become my annual tradition,” she writes, “even when I am far from the places I call home.”
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PS The Watergate hack happened today 50 years ago.