A regional scientific panel has given final approval for COVID-19 vaccines for young children, clearing the way for Washington medical providers to offer the shots in the coming days and weeks.
The Western States Scientific Safety Workgroup announced Sunday it had reviewed the federal process for OK'ing the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and concluded they are "safe and effective" for children as young as 6 months old, according to a news release from Gov. Jay Inslee's office.
Washington joined Oregon, California and Nevada in creating the scientific review group in October 2020 to review vaccine approvals by the federal government.
The group's stamp of approval had been expected after the approval of the vaccines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.
The decision means the Moderna two-dose vaccine series and the Pfizer three-dose vaccine series will now be available to children ages 6 months to 4 years. Vaccines had previously been authorized for older children and adults.
"This is excellent news for Washington families and I know many parents who have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get their youngest children vaccinated. I encourage parents to contact their trusted providers to discuss any questions or concerns," Inslee said in a statement.
Parents looking for information on vaccinations for their children can use the state Department of Health's online tool: https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/. They can also use the state's PrepMod tool to find even more vaccination sites.
People with questions or who need help scheduling appointments can call the state's COVID hotline at 800-525-0127, press #; or call its alternate phone number, 888-856-5816.