Pennsylvania, NJ prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout for kids under 5

Following an announcement from the CDC, the state of Pennsylvania says it is preparing to administer COVID-19 vaccines to children six months and older.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent panel of advisers voted on Saturday to recommend the first COVID-19 shots for babies and preschoolers.

Roughly 18 million kids will be eligible - about one and a half years after the vaccines first became available for adults in the U.S.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are set to be available for children in Pennsylvania beginning Tuesday according to the Department of Health. Both vaccines are now approved for children as young as six months.

"The approval of the vaccines for young children across the state and the nation is welcome news for many parents who have been waiting for the opportunity to provide valuable protection for their children from COVID-19," said Acting Health Secretary Dr. Denise Johnson.

Pharmacists in Pennsylvania are only allowed to provide COVID-19 vaccines to children ages three and older.

Therefore, the department says parents should schedule an appointment with their pediatricians and primary care physicians for those under 3 years old.

Children receiving the three-dose Pfizer shots, should receive the second dose three weeks after the first, and the third shot eight weeks after the second shot, according to officials.

Moderna’s vaccine requires two doses, with the second shot recommended 28 days after the first dose. 

"It is critical for parents to make sure their children receive the complete series of shots for the vaccine to be as effective as possible," Johnson said. "The CDC says for the vaccine to reach its efficacy, children need to receive the recommended three doses of the Pfizer vaccine and two doses of the Moderna vaccine." 

New Jersey is also preparing to administer COVID-19 vaccines to children under 5 years old.

Governor Phil Murphy said the shot would be available "soon" in a statement Saturday:

"We have pre-ordered vaccine doses and have been working with our vaccination sites and healthcare providers to get them ready to vaccinate these younger children, and they are prepared to begin as soon as they receive the vaccine."