Parents of Colorado toddlers urged planning COVID shots now

Parents of children under the age of 5 are receiving messages from the state health department today, urging them to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 before preschools resume.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that children between the ages of six months and five years should get either three doses of the Pfizer vaccine or two of the Moderna vaccine. Both contain the same ingredients as the adult and older child syringes, but in lower doses.

Infants under the age of six months are not eligible for the vaccine but can get some protection from serious diseases if their mothers are vaccinated during pregnancy.

It takes between 11 and 16 weeks to complete the Pfizer series and four to eight weeks for Moderna, said Heather Roth, director of immunizations at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. That said, parents shouldn’t hesitate if they want their children protected before school starts, especially since the body doesn’t develop its highest level of protection until about two weeks after the last injection, she said.

“Now is the perfect time,” she says.

Children are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 than adults but had less protection during this winter’s Omicron surge than they did when the pandemic began, Dr. Eric France, Chief Medical Officer of the National Health Ministry. Hospitalization rates for COVID-19 in children under the age of 5 were about twice the likelihood of being hospitalized for chickenpox before this vaccine became available and were comparable to the rate caused by the seasonal flu, he said he. About a quarter of children in this age group who were hospitalized for COVID-19 between December and February spent some time in an intensive care unit.

“As a pediatrician and public health doctor, I’m thrilled” to have vaccines for younger children, he said.

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