This is a moment that many parents have been looking forward to for months: Children under the age of 5 are already eligible for coronavirus vaccination, among the last Americans to qualify.
Without access to vaccines, parents of young children face an almost impossible choice since the beginning of the pandemic. Many children were kept from school, family gatherings and other activities and were deprived of normal childhood experiences. Now all this can change.
On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children aged 6 months. The decision means that the injections will be given for the first time to these young children, perhaps on Tuesday.
Sunny Baker, 35, a mother of two in Oxford, Ms.
“Yes yes yes! We would like to be first in line,” she said.
But Ms. Baker may be in the minority: a recent Kaiser Health study found that only one in five parents will vaccinate their young children immediately. Many plan to detain for now.
As the pandemic extends to the third year and Americans assess the risks they are willing to live with, the CDC’s decision puts parents of young children in place.
Vaccines have lost some of their power against infection with new variants, although they continue to offer protection against serious illness and death. And a huge number of Americans were infected during the Omicron wave, which contributed to the misconception among many that the battle was over.
The change in advice has also contributed to a lack of enthusiasm. Daryl Richardson, 37, of Baltimore, said he had no plans to vaccinate his three children, in part because of the constant changes in the number of recommended doses.
“First it was a shot, then it was an amplifier and another amplifier,” he said.
After navigating the dangers of the pandemic with their children for so long, parents now face new questions, some so complex that they have made it difficult even for regulators and experts. Which vaccine is better? How well and how soon will they work? And why should I worry if most of the young children have already been exposed to the virus?
Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are considered safe for young children and both give blood levels of protective antibodies similar to those seen in young adults. But neither provides the miraculous protection provided by adult vaccines in the early days of the pandemic.