Covid shots for young kids are almost available. Here’s what you need to know.

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending coronavirus vaccines for children under 5. (Video: Jackson Barton, John Farrell/The Washington Post)

Finally, vaccines for the youngest children are almost here.

Federal regulators and their outside advisers will scrutinize coronavirus vaccines Wednesday for the only group in the United States still not eligible for the shots — children younger than 5, a contingent 19 million strong. The long-anticipated action comes a year and a half after the first shots were cleared for adults, and amid a rush of graduations, vacations and camp gatherings as families scramble to enjoy the summer.

If all goes as expected, two vaccines — one by Moderna and the other by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech — will be authorized by federal authorities and be available by June 21. Experts predict the initial uptake will be modest, with many parents taking a wait-and-see approach.

Biden administration officials said they plan to make the vaccines as accessible as possible so parents can get their youngest children vaccinated at locations they know and trust. Along with pediatrician offices, there will be pop-up clinics at children’s museums, libraries and child-care sites.

Administration officials will also launch a national education campaign with pediatric and family physician groups, the National Diaper Bank Network and the National Parent Teacher Association to answer questions from parents.

“We have waited a long time for this moment,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha said at a briefing Thursday. “We are on the cusp of having safe, highly effective vaccines for kids under 5.”

“This will be a really important moment,” said Jason Schwartz, a vaccine policy expert at the Yale School of Public Health. “This has been such a gap in our societal defenses for two years. These kids are the last group left to fend for themselves as public health measures — such as wearing masks — are ratcheted back.”

Here’s a guide for parents on the pending action and where to find the shots:

Coronavirus: What you need to know

The latest: The CDC has loosened many of its recommendations for battling the coronavirus, a strategic shift that puts more of the onus on individuals, rather than on schools, businesses and other institutions, to limit viral spread.

Variants: BA.5 is the most recent omicron subvariant, and it’s quickly become the dominant strain in the U.S. Here’s what to know about it, and why vaccines may only offer limited protection.

Vaccines: Vaccines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 12 and older get an updated coronavirus booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant circulating now. You’re eligible for the shot if it has been at least two months since your initial vaccine or your last booster. An initial vaccine series for children under 5, meanwhile, became available this summer. Here’s what to know about how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections and booster history.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. The omicron variant is behind much of the recent spread.

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