NEW ORLEANS — Across Louisiana, pediatricians are already getting in shipments of COVID-19 vaccines for some of their youngest patients and will begin administering them Tuesday. The state's expanded eligibility comes after the CDC and FDA gave full approval for kids aged six months to five years.
The FDA authorized a three-dose Pfizer vaccine and a two-dose Moderna vaccine for young kids.
"It is now the clear unambiguous recommendation of the CDC and LDH that everyone ages 6 months and up get vaccinated," said Dr. Joseph Kanter, State Health Director with the Louisiana Department of Health.
In Louisiana, 175 providers are able to administer shots to young kids. Pharmacists can only vaccinate kids three and up so most young kids will get vaccinated at their pediatricians office.
"That's where the bulk of child vaccines are given, that's where families feel most comfortable," Dr. Kanter said.
"Pediatricians across the state are prepared for this. We are excited and encourage it," said Dr. Rachel Chatters, a pediatrician in Lake Charles. "It's our best hope, it's our greatest tool for ending this current pandemic."
In Louisiana, 21 children have died from COVID since the pandemic began. None of them were fully vaccinated and nine of were under the age of five.
"Children under 5 are at a higher risk for hospitalization from COVID-19 than our older children and that's true for other infectious diseases as well," Dr. Kanter said.
Currently in Louisiana, 17 percent of kids 5 to 11 have had their first dose and 47 percent of kids 12 to 17 have had their first dose.
"I think that's too low," Kanter said.