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COVID vaccine rollout for U.S. tots close after CDC panel vote By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A panel of advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday voted to recommend COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as six months, making it likely a nationwide rollout can start next week.

The 12-0 vote in favor of the move needs to be signed off by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for the U.S. government to start rolling out the vaccines for children aged 5 and under.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized Moderna (NASDAQ:) Inc’s shot for children aged six months to 5 years, and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children aged six months to 4 years. Pfizer (NYSE:)’s vaccine is already authorized for children over the age of 5.

“This infection kills children and we have an opportunity to prevent that,” Beth Bell, one of the doctors on the panel, said following the vote. “Here is an opportunity to prevent a known risk.”

President Joe Biden’s administration plans to roll out the vaccines to the under-5 age groups as early as next week.

“We will begin shipping millions of vaccine doses for kids to thousands of locations parents know and trust – including pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals, and pharmacies,” Biden said in a statement on Friday.

“As doses are delivered, parents will be able to start scheduling vaccinations for their youngest kids as early as next week, with appointments ramping up over the coming days and weeks.”

While many parents in the United States are eager to vaccinate their children, it is unclear how strong demand will be for the shots. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for children aged 5 to 11 in October, but only about 29% of that group is so far fully vaccinated, federal data shows.

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