Syringes holding the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine prepped to administer to children ages 5-11 at Katherine R. Smith Elementary School in San Jose, Calif., on Nov. 4, 2021. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News)

Bay Area children under age 5 will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine for the first time this week following federal regulators’ approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed the agency’s approval of the vaccine Saturday for children who at least 6 months old.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also gave its approval Friday for the country’s youngest children to get their shots.

“We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated,” Walensky said Saturday in a statement. “I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”   

Both vaccines will be made available to young children via emergency use authorization. The Pfizer vaccine will be administered to children under age 5 in three doses over roughly three months while the Moderna vaccine will have the same two-dose schedule for all children.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently approved for emergency use for everyone ages 5-15 and fully approved and marketed under the name Comirnaty for everyone ages 16 and up.

The Moderna vaccine has also been fully approved for all adults and is marketed as Spikevax.

State public health officials endorsed the approval of the CDC and FDA and stressed that clinical trial data has found that both vaccines are safe for young children.

“COVID-19 has become one of the top five leading causes of death in children and vaccines make these deaths preventable,” state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly and California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Tomas Aragon said in a joint statement.

“Getting everyone in our homes and communities vaccinated reduces the chances for the virus to spread to those we love most,” they said.

People with young children are encouraged to visit the state’s vaccination scheduling tool,, or call (833) 422-4255 to set up a vaccination appointment.

Residents can also contact their local public health agency or their personal care provider for information on the available COVID vaccines.