The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months through 5 years of age, paving the way for vaccinating the youngest Vermonters later this month.

“This is very welcome news for the parents and caregivers who have been waiting for more than a year now for their young children to benefit from a COVID-19 vaccine,” health commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, said. “Vaccines are the safer way to build protection against the virus and help prevent serious outcomes.”

Both the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been authorized for use. Providers will begin receiving the vaccines this week, but will have their own plans for administering them, so parents and caregivers should expect to hear from their child’s pediatrician when they are ready to begin vaccinations.

“Pediatricians are a trusted resource for parents, and they can answer questions and provide a familiar, comfortable setting for children to be vaccinated,” Levine said.

There are about 26,000 children between 6 months and 4 years old in Vermont who will now be eligible for vaccination.

The Vermont Department of Health will also offer the vaccines at a limited number of walk-in clinics, including at equity-focused clinics. Information about clinics with vaccines for this age group will be updated at healthvermont.gov/kidsvaccine as soon as it’s available. There is no registration for these clinics.

Families enrolled in WIC may also be able to get vaccinated through their local office. Some pharmacies will also carry the vaccine but can only vaccinate children ages 3 and older.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized to be given to children ages 6 months through 4 years in two doses that are three weeks apart, followed by a third dose at least two months later. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is authorized to be given to children 6 months through 5 years in two doses four weeks apart.

Pfizer doses are one-tenth the dosage given to adults, while the Moderna doses are one-fourth the dosage.

The vaccines were found to be safe, with side effects typically mild and temporary, according to the CDC.

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