COVID-19 vaccine could be available for Arizona kids under 5 years next week

By Stephanie Innes |Arizona Republic

The COVID-19 vaccine had not yet received final federal approval for children under the age of five when Mesa resident Kara Karlson booked an appointment to get the Moderna shot for her three-year-old daughter, Ava.

“We’ve been chomping at the bit,” said Karlson, an attorney, mother of two and a member of the state’s Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council. “The vaccine is incredibly safe. … Ava will get her shot right away.”

An independent U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Wednesday unanimously found the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine safe for children between the ages of six months and five years old, and also recommended a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages six months to six years old. 

Final approval from the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was still needed as of Thursday in order for babies, toddlers and preschoolers to begin getting the COVID-19 shots. Retail pharmacies and health providers in Arizona were expecting shipments of the special low-dose COVID-19 vaccine for as early as next week.

Karlson wants more parents to get the COVID-19 vaccine for their young children, as the more people who are vaccinated, the better the whole community will be protected. That includes kids such as Ava who are medically vulnerable, she said, though she emphasized that there are many children who are more medically compromised than Ava.

Mesa resident Kara Karlson’s daughters Ava, 3, and Hannah, 5. Karlson hopes to get the COVID-19 vaccine for Ava as soon as it’s available. Hannah is already fully vaccinated.

Karlson says Ava has multiple health challenges, including lung damage after being hospitalized in 2019 with adenovirus and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus. She hardly has been outside her family’s home since the pandemic began and has missed out on preschool and socializing because of concerns that she would contract COVID-19, her mother said.

Everything in her family’s life right now, when Ava is unvaccinated, is a “very painful tradeoff,” Karlson said, knowing that exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 could seriously harm her child. 


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