Finally, vaccines for the youngest children are almost here.
Federal regulators and their outside advisers will scrutinize coronavirus vaccines Wednesday for the only group in the United States still not eligible for the shots — children younger than 5, a contingent 19 million strong. The long-anticipated action comes a year and a half after the first shots were cleared for adults, and amid a rush of graduations, vacations and camp gatherings as families scramble to enjoy the summer.
If all goes as expected, two vaccines — one by Moderna and the other by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech — will be authorized by federal authorities and be available by June 21. Experts predict the initial uptake will be modest, with many parents taking a wait-and-see approach.
Biden administration officials said they plan to make the vaccines as accessible as possible so parents can get their youngest children vaccinated at locations they know and trust. Along with pediatrician offices, there will be pop-up clinics at children’s museums, libraries and child-care sites, senior administration officials said Wednesday in a background briefing.
Administration officials will also launch a national education campaign with pediatric and family physician groups, the National Diaper Bank Network and the National Parent Teacher Association to answer questions from parents.
“This will be a really important moment,” said Jason Schwartz, a vaccine policy expert at the Yale School of Public Health. “This has been such a gap in our societal defenses for two years. These kids are the last group left to fend for themselves as public health measures — such as wearing masks — are ratcheted back.”
Here’s a guide for parents on the pending action and where to find the shots: