The United States begins the anti-COVID-19 vaccination of toddlers

Covid 19

The United States kicked off its campaign to vaccinate under-fives against COVID-19 on Tuesday, a step welcomed by some parents, eager to protect their children from the worst consequences of the virus.

“We are thrilled,” says Amisha Vakil, mother of two three-year-old boys, who wear matching Spiderman T-shirts to receive their Moderna vaccine at a children's hospital in Houston, Texas.

One of the twins underwent three open-heart surgeries in his first five months. “He is very high risk, so you know, we lived in a little bubble” during the whole pandemic, adds his mother. “Now he has a little armor that helps him a lot.”

In the same hospital, Anna Farrow, who came with her husband Luke, hopes that “this is in a way the beginning of a normal childhood” for her two children, George, 3, and Hope, 10 months.

“Historical step”

“This is a historic step, a monumental step forward,” said US President Joe Biden, as millions of vaccines were rolled out across the country.

For “the first time in our fight against this pandemic, almost every American can have access to life-saving vaccines,” he added from the White House.

The US Medicines Agency (FDA) last week gave the green light to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for babies, children and adolescents from 6 months of age, while only the Pfizer vaccine was authorized until then for more than five years. In the aftermath, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the country's main health agency, recommended them on Saturday.

A handful of other countries and territories, including Argentina, Bahrain, Chile, China, Cuba, Hong Kong and Venezuela, previously offered COVID-19 shots for toddlers, but not infant vaccines. mRNA (Pfizer, Moderna), considered the leading technology in this field.

The European Medicines Agency is currently reviewing the Moderna vaccine for use in children under six and may follow the US decision.

500 deaths

Children between the ages of six months and four years are not at nearly as much risk as adults from infection.

But the scale of the contaminations has resulted in more than 45,000 hospitalizations and nearly 500 deaths – out of more than a million in total – in the 0-4 year old group in the United States since the start of the pandemic.

In Needham, Mass., Temple Beth Shalom official Ellen Dietrick expected to welcome 300 children on the first day.

For Daniel Grieneisen, father of a three-year-old girl, “this means that in a few weeks we will be able to take her to indoor places, and in a way to find our lives, it's quite exciting”.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in May, only one in five parents of children under five were eager to get them vaccinated immediately.

“I think I want to see more research results,” said Rita Saeed, 29, hands on her stroller, in the alleys of Central Park in New York, saying she wanted to wait a few years before vaccinating her son. two years.

In a sign that the politicization persists in the United States around vaccines, the governor of Florida and possible rival of Donald Trump for the presidency of 2024, Ron DeSantis, refused to place an order with the federal government for vaccines for the youngest children, “who have zero risk of catching anything”, according to him.

“Now is not the time for politics,” replied Joe Biden, “it is about allowing parents to do whatever they can to keep children safe.”

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