New York state officials are rolling out a "robust" effort to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and six months, the final cohort of people yet to qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Health officials at the same time are urging parents and guardians of young children to speak with their doctors or medical providers about receiving the vaccine.
“At long last, COVID-19 vaccines are here for the youngest New Yorkers down to six months of age,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “I encourage parents and guardians to get their littlest ones vaccinated, giving them the safe, effective protection against COVID-19 they need. Over the coming days, reach out to your child’s pediatrician, family physician, local health clinic, or visit our website to learn more about the vaccine for children and to schedule their free vaccine appointment.”
Health providers in the state outside of New York City have placed orders for more than 64,300 dosages of the vaccine, the Department of Health said. Providers across the state will also be able to request additional doses.
Federal officials this week recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID vaccines for young children as the pandemic continues on, and public health officials have raised concerns over the ability of the virus to mutate and create new strains.
Children between the ages of six months and 4 years old are eligible for three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The first two shots are scheduled three weeks apart, with the third dose administered at least eight weeks after the second dose. Pfizer's shot was previously approved for kids 5 years and older.
Kids between the ages of six months and 5 years are eligible for two shots of the Moderna-made vaccine given one month apart. The vaccine had been previously authorized for adults 18 and older.
“I’ve been waiting for COVID-19 vaccines for children down to 6 months of age, just like many other New York parents and guardians,” Dr. Emily Lutterloh, the director of the State Health Department’s Division of Epidemiology said. “As both a doctor and a parent of three children, I want New Yorkers to know that my two older children are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, and now that vaccination is available for kids under 5, I’ll be getting my youngest vaccinated right away. Vaccination offers young children safe and important protection against severe illness, and I encourage families to get their babies, toddlers, and preschoolers vaccinated as soon as they can.”