The Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave the green light to COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 and younger, a key step towards making the shots available to the youngest group of kids.
The agency authorized the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for kids ages 6 months to 4 years old, as well as a vaccine from Moderna for kids up to age 5.
With the authorization, vaccines can start being shipped to states and other jurisdictions that pre-ordered the initial batch.
Advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are scheduled to meet Friday and Saturday to discuss whether to recommend use of the shots in young kids.
If all goes well, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky could sign off on a favorable recommendation as early as Saturday.
The Biden administration is aiming for vaccinations to start June 21.
More than a year and a half since vaccines began rolling out for adults, kids under 5 are the last group eligible to be vaccinated. There are about 18 million of them eligible.
FDA said the vaccines are safe and effective and prevent serious disease, though neither performed very well in preventing symptomatic disease, especially against the omicron variant.
Young kids are at risk from COVID-19 even if they don’t get sick as often as adults. According to FDA, 442 children younger than 5 had died of COVID through the end of May, a toll higher than for many other vaccine-preventable illnesses.