DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Miami Valley health officials are preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized for children 6 months to 5 years old and providing advice for parents.

Health officials said while COVID-19 hasn’t had a major impact on our youngest children, those 5 and under can still have serious complications, or spread the virus to others. That’s why they believe this vaccine approval would cover a gap in COVID-19 protection.

“As a pediatrician, I’m pretty excited that this has happened,” Premier Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marc Belcastro said.

Health departments like the Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) have already put in their order for doses as soon as they’re released by the Ohio Department of Health.

“We’ve had many inquiries from the public, when can I get my 6 month to 5-year-old vaccinated,” CCCHD Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said. “We’re excited to be able to provide that.”

Patterson said parents should consult with their child’s pediatrician and consider their child’s risk factors when deciding whether to give them the vaccine.

“Do I have other people who are at great risk? Are they around their grandparents frequently or does grandparents live with them? Does my child have a higher risk for complications because of some medical conditions?” Patterson said.

The vaccine for this age group is much smaller than an adult dose, and may come with minor side effects like a sore arm, fever and fatigue.

“We’re even more careful with our kids and the vaccines that are going to those kids, and because there was a lesser effect overall on that, that age range, it did seem safer to take the time to make sure that we had everything together to get this approval,” Patterson said.

Belcastro said this is a big step in protecting our youngest children.

“If we can even help one child who might be immunocompromised or have other risk factors or who does develop serious disease, that’s very important for us,” Belcastro said.