COLORADO, USA — On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 years old. The news was a sigh of relief for some parents who have waited months for the approval.
"I cried and laughed and frantically signed her up for the first appointment I can find," Dr. Lies van Bekkum, a clinical psychologist and parent to two children, said. "I mean, it’s the safest choice that we can make for our children and it’s the step that we can take for them, for our families and for our communities. it’s a critical step in our fight towards really shifting out of this pandemic phase of COVID-19."
Once van Bekkum heard the approval by the CDC, she quickly ventured to the Colorado Vaccine Hunters Facebook page to search for an appointment for her 2-year-old.
Colorado healthcare providers are already accepting appointments, but won't start administering the vaccine until Wednesday.
The Pfizer vaccine is three doses and covers kids from 6 months to 4 years old. The Moderna vaccine is two doses, and can cover kids up to 5 years old.
The CDC's green light opens up eligibility for nearly 20 million additional children in the United States.
"This is not a fix-it-all solution, but it is a huge critical step that we've been waiting for, and I know lots of families now are having to make those choices of 'Does it feel safe? Which vaccine?' All of the things that come next. And all families deserve support in making those decisions that is right for their family," van Bekkum said.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both had mild side effects in young children during the trial run. The most common side effects were irritability, sleepiness and pain where they got the shot.
But for parents like van Bekkum, a moment of discomfort is worth the peace of mind. She has been part of a Facebook group pushing for the approval of the vaccine for children under 5 years old.
"It feels like a layer of protection that we’ve been missing," van Bekkum said. "Now our family personally is going to continue to make safe choices and encourage our kiddos to wear a mask, as numbers are still high in Colorado at this time, but the peace of mind knowing that this decreases the severity of illness if she does get sick."
The state health department placed preorders for tens of thousands of doses of both Pfizer and Moderna. They plan to host mobile vaccine clinics throughout the state starting this week.
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