Colorado parents of toddlers urged to schedule COVID shots now | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

Parents of kids under 5 will start getting messages today from the state health department, urging them to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 before preschools are back in session.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that children between six months and 5 years receive either three doses of the Pfizer vaccine or two of the Moderna shot. Both contain the same ingredients as the shots given to adults and older kids, but in smaller doses.

Infants younger than six months aren’t eligible for the shots, but can receive some protection from severe illness if their mothers get 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, immunization branch chief at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. That means parents shouldn’t delay if they want their children to be protected before school starts, especially since the body doesn’t develop its highest level of protection until about two weeks after the final shot, she said.

“Now is the perfect time,” she said.

Children are at a lower risk of severe COVID-19 than adults, but had less protection during the omicron wave this winter than they did earlier in the pandemic, said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer for the state health department. Hospitalization rates for COVID-19 among kids under 5 were roughly double the odds of being hospitalized for chickenpox before that vaccine became available, and were comparable to the rate caused by seasonal flu, he said. About one-quarter of children in that age group hospitalized for COVID-19 between December and February spent time in an intensive care unit.

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

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