SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — With Tuesday's CDC approval of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, Rady Children's Hospital began delivering the first shots to this age group Wednesday morning.
Doctor Mark Sawyer, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Rady Children's and member of the FDA's vaccine advisory panel, said this is a big step toward getting kids back to school and back to their regular activities.
"We've been waiting for months for the vaccine to become available for the younger age group because they're definitely a part of the group that gets infected. We've had over 300 children inside Rady Children's Hospital with COVID, 75 of them in the intensive care unit -- so kids do get sick and this is a big step in preventing that," Sawyer said.
The vaccine — one-third the dose given to older children and adults and administered with kid-sized needles — requires two doses three weeks apart, plus two more weeks for full protection to kick in.
"Even though I just got my first dose I feel like I'm more protected than I was just a couple minutes ago," said Madelyn Leonards.
"We've been in this quarantine for almost two years which seems so crazy to me and I just want this Covid to go away," she added.
"It was like a pinch, it was like a flu shot. I kept saying 'it's just going to be a pinch and it's going to be over, just this tiny pinch' -- and that was it," said Kaitlyn Ryan.
"It's exciting to not only protect them but also our family and community as a whole," said parent Julianna Rozycki.
U.S. health officials on Tuesday gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot, a major expansion of the nation’s vaccination campaign.
The Food and Drug Administration already authorized the shots for children ages 5 to 11 — doses just a third of the amount given to teens and adults. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends who should receive FDA-cleared vaccines.
The announcement by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky came only hours after an advisory panel unanimously decided Pfizer’s shots should be opened to the 28 million youngsters in that age group.
Millions of shots made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have already been shipped to states, doctors’ offices and pharmacies, to be ready for CDC's decision.
WATCH: Rady Children’s Hospital begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to kids ages 5-11 (Nov 3, 2021)