NEW YORK - The United States could be turning a new page in the pandemic playbook this week.
The FDA announced Sunday that three doses of the Pfizer vaccine appeared to be safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 in children under five, the only age group not yet eligible for shots.
"It would mean that, for the first time, essentially every American from our oldest to our youngest, would be eligible for the protection," says Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator.
"More than 30,000 children under five in our country have been hospitalized with COVID during this pandemic, and nearly 500 deaths have been reported in this age group," adds U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
The agency published its review ahead of a Wednesday meeting in which outside experts will recommend whether the vaccine is ready for the nation’s youngest children.
The White House has already unveiled its rollout plan.
President Biden says ten million doses are available for pre-order, and once approved, kids could start getting jabs by June 21.
Nimmi Rajagopal, Cook County Health Spokesperson, says the risks attributed with COVID-19 are far higher than risks from the vaccine.
"We don't ever want people to take COVID lightly because there are still a lot of unknowns, so, what's the long-term impact? There's the risk of having long haul symptoms," he explains.
In the meantime, New Yorkers are hitting another pandemic-related milestone.
Masks are now optional for kids under five in pre-school and daycare settings.
Mayor Adams lifted the requirement for students in grades K-12 back in March but says masks will still be available for anyone who wants to wear one.
The news comes with mixed reactions from parents and caregivers as COVID-19 cases finally begin to level out following a late spring surge.