The United States kicked off its campaign to vaccinate children under 5 against COVID-19 on Tuesday, a step welcomed by some parents who want to protect their children from the worst consequences of the virus.
“We're thrilled,” says Amisha Vakil, mother of two 3-year-old boys who wear matching Spider-Man t-shirts to receive their Moderna vaccine at a children's hospital in Houston, Texas.
One of the twins had three open-heart surgeries in his first five months.
'He's very high risk, so, you know, we lived in a little bubble' throughout the pandemic, explains his mother. “Now he has a little armor which helps him a lot.”
At the same hospital, Anna Farrow, who came with her husband Luke, hopes “this is sort of the start of a normal childhood” for her two children, George, 3, and Hope, 10 months.
“This is a historic step, a monumental step forward,” welcomed US President Joe Biden, while million vaccines were being deployed across the country.
For “the first time in our fight against this pandemic, almost every American can have access to life-saving vaccines,” he added from the House -White.
The US Medicines Agency (FDA) last week gave the green light to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for babies, children and adolescents from 6 months of age, while only the Pfizer vaccine was authorized until then for more than 5 years. In the process, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the country's main health agency, recommended them on Saturday.
A handful of other countries and territories, including Argentina, Bahrain, Chile, China, Cuba, Hong Kong and Venezuela, previously offered COVID shots for toddlers, but not mRNA vaccines (Pfizer , Moderna), considered to be the leading technology in this field.
The European Medicines Agency is currently reviewing the Moderna vaccine for use in children under 6 years of age and may follow the US decision.
Children aged 6 months to 4 years are not at nearly as much risk as adults in the event of infection.
But the scale of the contaminations has resulted in more than 45,000 hospitalizations and nearly 500 deaths – out of more than a million in total – in the 0-4 age group in the United States since the start of the pandemic.
In Needham, Mass., Temple Beth Shalom official Ellen Dietrick expected to welcome 300 children on the first day.
For Daniel Grieneisen, father of a 3-year-old girl, “this means that in a few weeks we will be able to take her to indoor places, and in a way to find our lives again, it's quite exciting”.< /p>
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in May, only one in five parents of children under age 5 were eager to get them vaccinated immediately.
“I think I want to see more search results,” said Rita Saeed, 29, hands on her stroller in the alleys of Central Park, New York. She says she wants to wait a few years before having her 2-year-old son vaccinated.
A sign that the politicization around vaccines persists in the United States, the governor of Florida and possible rival of Donald Trump in the presidential election of 2024, Ron DeSantis, refused to place an order with the federal government for vaccines for the youngest children, “who have zero risk of catching anything”, according to him.
“This n This is not the time for politics,” replied Joe Biden, “it is about allowing parents to do whatever they can to keep children safe.”