FRIDAY, June 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the emergency use of both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for the country’s youngest children.

“Many parents, caregivers and clinicians have been waiting for a vaccine for younger children and this action will help protect those down to 6 months of age. As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D., said in an agency news release. “Those trusted with the care of children can have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of these COVID-19 vaccines and can be assured that the agency was thorough in its evaluation of the data.”

One expert heralded the news.

“Children under the age of 5 are the last group to become eligible for the COVID vaccine. Today’s news should offer reassurance to millions of parents who have been waiting to protect their children against this harmful virus,” Diego Hijano, M.D., a top infectious disease specialist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, said in a statement. “Today’s message for parents is do not wait to get your child vaccinated and protected against the COVID virus. Model projections forecast a potentially difficult fall infection season and while children are on summer break, now is the time to schedule their vaccine appointment. The COVID vaccine will provide children with the highest levels of antibody protection and overwhelmingly reduce the potential for hospitalizations and severe illness.”

Following the FDA approval, an advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will vote on Saturday on whether to endorse the shots. The final step in the approval process will come when CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., green lights the shots.

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