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Parents hope to get their kids under 5 vaccinated by June


Children under 5 could be getting their COVID-19 vaccines in June, when the FDA is set to make a decision on authorizing Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and former Baltimore city health commissioner, said her two children will be first in line when the FDA gives the green light.

“I feel as if there is hope on the horizon,” she said.

Moderna said yesterday that its vaccine is 51% effective against reducing symptomatic infection for kids younger than two, and 37% effective for those two and older.

Wen said that might sound low, but that this data’s very encouraging and the vaccines are comparable to those for adults.

Moderna conducted its trial for kids after omicron became dominant.

Moreover, Wen said, it means the vaccine does its job, which is not to prevent infections.

“It's to reduce the chance of severe illness,” she said.

If the FDA gives the go-ahead, 20 million children can get their first shots in June, and the vaccine will finally become available to people of all ages in the U.S.

Parents like Lauren Finegan, of Baltimore City, have long anticipated this decision. Finegan is the mother of two kids under five. The first was born just before the pandemic, the second during.

She’s had to take extra precautions, even as more people are returning to pre-COVID activities. Now, Finegan’s not sure what it will mean to be a parent without the pandemic.

“I don't think I know how my life is gonna change because I've never known anything different than this,” she said.

Finegan said she was very excited when the FDA was set to make a decision on Pfizer vaccines for younger kids in February.

Then the FDA delayed that decision. At this point, she says, she’s a little jaded; the June dates are tentative and the FDA could delay its decision again.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Finegan said.

Julie Tice, also of Baltimore City, said the same. Her five and a half year old just got vaccinated. But her youngest just turned one. Tice hasn’t been able to see her mother, who is 82 and has dementia, for three years.

“That is time with grandparents that neither of my kids are ever going to get,” she said. “That's been really hard.”

And Tice said she can’t wait for her kids to get vaccinated so they can spend time with family and friends, go on field trips and have all the other experiences she feels they’re entitled to.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.