Health officials in New York City are preparing to distribute vaccines for children younger than 5 starting on June 22, according to a new plan announced on Friday by Mayor Eric Adams.
The plan, which is contingent on federal action on Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for very young children, will rely on pediatrician offices and 10 city vaccine hubs to offer the vaccine.
“I know how long parents and caretakers of our little ones have been waiting for the moment their youngest would have access to a Covid-19 vaccine, and as soon as that moment comes, I want them to know we will be ready,” Mr. Adams said in a statement.
Starting on June 21, parents can use the city’s “Vaccine Finder” website to schedule an appointment at several kinds of locations. Clinics that have been serving children 5 and older will shift to vaccinate younger children, the mayor’s office said. Ten vaccine hubs, including sites in Times Square, the Queens Center Mall and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, will offer the Moderna vaccine for young children. The Pfizer vaccine will also be available at other locations.
Moderna’s two-dose vaccine is for children 6 months through 5 years old, while Pfizer’s three-dose vaccine is for children 6 months through 4 years old.
Health officials encouraged parents to reach out to their child’s doctor to ask if they will have the vaccines. The city’s health department has been conducting “educational outreach” to pediatrician offices and said that some families might feel more comfortable getting the vaccine from a trusted provider.
The mayor’s plan is dependent on federal clearance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose advisory panel is meeting on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for very young children.
More than 88 percent of adults in New York City are fully vaccinated, but only about 60 percent of children ages 5 to 17 are fully vaccinated, according to city data. Vaccination rates for children are highest in Manhattan — about 92 percent of children have received one dose — and lowest on Staten Island, where only 54 percent of children have received one dose.
The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, said in a statement that the vaccines for children under 5 were safe and protected against the virus and severe complications.
“As the city’s doctor, and as a father of a 3-year-old, I have confidence in this vaccine, and I can’t wait to get my child vaccinated,” he said.