Local hospitals prepare to offer COVID vaccines for children under five

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Now that the FDA has voted to authorize COVID vaccines for children as young as six months, getting a vaccine is one step closer to reality.

Federal health officials now say that kids size doses of COVID-19 vaccines appear to be safe and effective for kids under the age of five. Which is welcome news to many parents and health officials across the commonwealth. 

“I am not going to say that this is the day that so many parents have been waiting for because I think that day is the day their kids actually get vaccinated against COVID-19”, said Dr. Kristina Bryant, an infectious disease specialist at Norton Children’s Hospital.

That day may be coming soon, as officials with Norton Children’s Hospital prepare to roll out vaccination clinics for this age group. 

“We’re really excited about this and hopefully starting as early as the end of next week we will be able to allow appointments to start being scheduled for these vaccines”, said Carrie Reigner, the COVID-19 director for Norton Healthcare.

But many parents may still be on the fence about getting their child vaccinated. Dr. Bryant says even though vaccines have been available for children over five for quite a while, there are still a lot of kids who have not been vaccinated. 

“I think we still need to get the message out to parents who are thinking ‘what should I do? Is this vaccine good for my child? Will this provide a benefit for my child?’ I think we need to get the message out that they are beneficial and recommended for kids five and above for some months now and millions of kids have safely received them and been protected.”

Officials with Norton Health care say we are still seeing COVID infections in the community, but luckily, not as many cases in children. However Dr. Bryant says when there is a new variant, things change. 

“During Omicron, we saw a big spike in hospitalizations particularly in younger kids. We know that in older kids who were eligible for vaccinations, the vaccination prevented hospitalization, severe illnesses, reduced multisystem inflammatory syndrome in the past so it’s important to be immunized because we don’t know what’s coming next with new variants.”

The next step is for the FDA to decide whether to authorize the vaccine for emergency use in the young age group then the CDC‘s vaccine advisers would vote whether to recommend the shots. That’s expected to happen Saturday. If the vaccines are signed off on by the FDA and the CDC, children could start receiving the vaccines as early as next week.