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You can now schedule a COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 5 in St. Louis area

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ST. LOUIS — St. Louis-area families can begin scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations for children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, following a long-awaited decision by federal health agencies over the weekend.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday recommended the shots for children in that age group. The decision comes more than 18 months after the doses first began rolling out for adults in the U.S.

“I think we all wish it would’ve happened more quickly,” said Dr. Jason Newland, a Washington University pediatric infectious diseases specialist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “But ... we did the right thing, and we made sure it was safe, and we made sure it was effective.”

Children between 6 months and 5 years old can receive either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Families can begin scheduling vaccinations through BJC HealthCare online at vaccinate.bjc.org/schedule.

Last month, the CDC authorized booster doses for children ages 5 through 11.

Younger people generally fare better against the virus. But children with COVID-19 have gotten seriously ill, including via complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome. According to the CDC, more than 400 younger than 5 have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. Vaccinating children can also help protect vulnerable family members and prevent relatives from missing work or school.

Children in the newly eligible age group receive a quarter of the adult dose of the Moderna vaccine, or a 10th of the adult dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Newland said. The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose series, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a three-dose series.

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