SSM Health expects big demand once CDC approves COVID-19 shots for infants, preschoolers

MADISON, Wis.– Roughly 18 million children under 5 in the U.S. are now one step closer to being eligible for COVID-19 shots after the Food and Drug Administration authorized vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer for that age group Friday. 

There’s still one step left — the CDC has to approve shots for that age group, which medical leaders expect will happen as soon as the beginning of next week. 

Younger kids generally don’t get as sick from COVID, but experts say the recent Omicron wave put more kids in the hospital, so the benefits of the shot outweighed the risks of a minor fever and fatigue.  

“Children are not completely and fully protected or immune from COVID overall, and hence the need for the vaccine,” said Mo Kharbat, the vice president of pharmacy services at SSM Health.  

Pfizer’s vaccine is one-tenth the adult dose and needs three shots, while Moderna’s is two shots about four weeks apart. 

Kharbat said they expect to see big demand at first.  

“Parents were calling us saying ‘when can my child get the vaccine?’ especially when you’re on travel or especially if they intend to definitely go back to normal and allow their kids to mix with other kids and go to activities indoors and outdoors and not have to worry about COVID,” he said.  

At Lucy Lincoln Hiestand Park in Madison Friday, Bryna Nelson said she didn’t do anything with her 2- and 3-year-olds last summer due to the virus, so the chance to get them vaccinated this year is a game-changer.  

“Anything we can do to help keep our kids safe and the vaccine is proven to be safe and I can’t wait to get them in to get it, because we are excited about going and doing things this summer and I don’t want them to get exposed if they don’t have to be,” said Nelson.  

According to Nelson, it’s important not only to protect her kids but others who have immunocompromising conditions that may keep them from getting the shot.  

“I was also a COVID ICU nurse through all of COVID and I now run a daycare, and I can say that as a mom and someone who takes care of a lot of kids and a lot of COVID patients that I think this is excellent and I can’t wait to get my kids vaccinated,” she said.  

According to Kharbat, state health officials have requested the vaccine. As soon as the CDC gives the go-ahead they could ship as early as Sunday or Monday.