The US on Saturday opened up Covid-19 vaccines to infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
The shots will become available next week, expanding the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as six months.
Advisers to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the vaccines for the littlest children, and the final sign-off came hours later from Dr Rochelle Walensky, the agency’s director.
“We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can,” Ms Walensky said in a statement.
While the Food and Drug Administration approves vaccines, it is the CDC that decides who should get them.
The shots offer young children protection from hospitalisation, death and possible long-term complications that are still not clearly understood, the CDC’s advisory panel said.
The government has already been gearing up for the vaccine expansion, with millions of doses ordered for distribution to doctors, hospitals and community health clinics around the country.
Roughly 18 million kids will be eligible, but it remains to be seen how many will ultimately get the vaccines. Less than a third of children ages five to 11 have done so since vaccination opened up to them in November.