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On Friday, U.S. regulators authorized the first COVID-19 shots for infants and preschoolers.

The Food and Drug Administration’s action follows its advisory panel’s unanimous recommendation for the shots from Moderna and Pfizer.

The orders allow U.S. kids under 5 — roughly 18 million youngsters — to be eligible for the shots, about 1 1/2 years after the vaccines first became available in the country for adults.

The order also paves the way for the start of the vaccination process next week.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said they decided to allow the vaccination of infants and preschoolers because pediatric deaths from COVID-19 have been higher than what is generally seen from the flu each year.

“So I think we need to protect young children, as well as protect everyone with the vaccine and especially protect elders,” Walensky said.

According to reports, the Biden administration has been preparing to roll out the vaccines for little kids, with states, tribes, community health centers, and pharmacies preordering millions of doses for weeks. With FDA’s emergency use authorization, manufacturers can begin shipping vaccines across the country.

 

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