WASHINGTON (NEWS10) — The Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than 5 years old. The FDA’s action comes after its advisory panel unanimously approved the shots from Pfizer and Moderna.

In late 2021, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11. Since then, some parents like Chloe King of Colonie, who has a vaccinated older child and an unvaccinated 3-year-old, have wondered when the toddler would be eligible. “We have vaccinated her with all her other vaccines,” she explained. “We feel like this is another thing we can do to make her as healthy and safe as we can.”

Some parents in the Capital Region do not share the same enthusiasm about vaccinating their younger children. “If they’re not affected by [COVID] because of their age, then I do not feel they need it,” said William Sutton of Schenectady.

“These vaccines, for this age group, seem to be more driven by parents’ desire to have it than it is for the safety of the kids,” said Schenectady parent Aaron Hendrickson.

Dr. Danielle Wales, an internal medicine specialist and pediatrician, said that while younger children do not get as sick as older kids and adults, there are still risks. “For a long time, we’ve been unable to vaccinate our youngest. It’s especially important for this age group,” she said. “Since the start of the pandemic, over 400 children in this age group have died of COVID. So I think there is a perception out there that COVID isn’t as severe as it can be for older adults, but for those 442 families, it can be devastating.” 

Wales said the interest from parents wanting to vaccinate their youngest has remained steady since ages 5 to 11 were authorized in October by the FDA and November by the CDC. But despite FDA authorization, one more step must be taken before the first shots can be distributed.

The CDC will decide on its formal recommendations for the 5 and under shots as early as Saturday when its advisory panel holds a vote. If the CDC gives its approval, shots could be available as soon as next week. Authorizating of this shot by the FDA comes at a time when mass vaccination sites in New York State like the one at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland and Aviation Mall in Queensbury are shutting their doors.