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Public Health

Louisiana kids 6 months and older are now eligible to get COVID vaccines, LDH says

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A vaccinator draws a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Children as young as 6 months old will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Louisiana this week, just days after federal agencies approved and authorized the shot for the youngest age group.

The announcement came from the Louisiana Department of Health on Monday. It now recommends the vaccine for children 6 months and up. The department said pediatric vaccines will be delivered to providers beginning this week.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the three-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the two-dose Moderna vaccine for infants.

The vaccines for young children had been stalled for months, leaving parents without the ability to immunize their young children two years into the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases are rising in Louisiana and nationally. And while children have been less likely to get seriously ill from the virus, 21 children have died from COVID-19 in Louisiana since the start of the outbreak.

The virus can also cause severe illness in kids, including certain heart conditions, long-term complications and hospitalizations, which spiked for children during the omicron surge.

Children are also less likely to be vaccinated than adults. Nationally, 29% of 5-11 year-olds have been fully vaccinated, compared to 76.8% of adults.

Studies found side effects for both vaccines included fever and fatigue, but were mostly minor, and the benefits of vaccination outweighed these side effects. The Louisiana Department of Health said the vaccinations mark a key turning point in protecting the youngest against severe outcomes from COVID-19.

“Many parents are eager to extend this protection to their younger children, and we are pleased they now have the opportunity to do so,” said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “Studies have shown vaccination confers additional protection even for those who have previously been infected.”

Vaccinating young children will “save lives,” he said.

The health department is posting a list of providers who have already ordered pediatric vaccines at ldh.la.gov/kidsvax.

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have different dose schedules. Modera is a two-dose series, with shots taken one month apart. Pfizer-BioNTech is administered in three doses. The second dose is given three weeks after the first, and the third at least eight weeks later.

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