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Washington approves COVID vaccines for kids under age 5

Children as young as 6 months old could start getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as Monday.
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PORTLAND, Ore. — Children as young as 6 months old could start getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as Monday, June 20, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's office announced Sunday.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency use authorization to the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 6 months to 5 years old on Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affirmed that decision Saturday. 

On Sunday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed an independent review of the FDA's process and determined that the vaccines are safe for the new age group. The workgroup formed in 2020 to determine whether the vaccines are safe on behalf of Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada. 

RELATED: Oregon health officials give update on COVID numbers, vaccines for young children

The Oregon Health Authority will tell health care providers that vaccinations of young children with Pfizer's three-dose vaccine series and Moderna's two-dose series can begin statewide as soon as Monday.

“This is a long-awaited moment for so many families," Gov. Brown said in a statement Sunday. "With today’s review by leading doctors, pediatricians and health experts, Oregon parents and children can be confident in the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for children as young as 6 months old.”

“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," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. "I encourage parents to contact their trusted providers to discuss any questions or concerns."

RELATED: With pediatric COVID vaccine authorization potentially arriving soon, Oregon health officials tell parents to prepare

According to a news release, the workgroup found that very young children who completed a vaccine series produced antibody levels similar to those vaccinated individuals ages 16-25. Reactions to the vaccines for kids ages 6 months to 5 years were consistent with reactions to other vaccines routinely recommended for these age groups.

"The Workgroup concluded that the benefits of completing either vaccine series substantially outweigh any known or likely risks," Brown's office said in a news release. "Immunization can be expected to reduce the numbers of COVID-19-related serious illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths in young children while facilitating their participation in normal educational, social and recreational activities." 

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup is made up of scientists with expertise in immunization and public health. It will continue to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines as they go through the federal process.

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