NEW YORK (PIX11) — Imagine a world where you are afraid to go outside. Imagine a world where you haven’t seen your relatives and friends face to face in years. Imagine a world where you feel like a prisoner in your own home.

For parents and families with children under the age of 5 with medical issues and compromised immune systems, that is the world they have been living in since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.

“She has no real concept of others her age. To me, the long-term effect on her development in these years is what keeps me up,” said Nana Boyer, a New York mother of a 3-year-old girl.

Boyer’s daughter, Georgiana, is not currently eligible for any of the COVID-19 vaccines. Her family tried their best to protect her from the virus, but they eventually all got it. For Georgiana’s vaccinated mom and dad, the virus wasn’t much worse than a cold. But for Georgiana, it nearly killed her.

“It’s just the difference between us being so well protected because we’re vaccinated and her having the same exact virus and struggling to live,” said Boyer.

Medical experts say there are about 18 million children in the U.S. under the age of 5 who haven’t been vaccinated because the FDA has not approved them. FDA officials say they are still waiting for the manufacturers to submit their vaccines for the youngest age group’s approval. And even once they do, full approval for all children may not be given until June or later.

“A lot of parents are getting very nervous and frustrated with what’s been happening. While the rest of the world is moving on and mask mandates are being taken away, especially on transportation, we still have a number of children, many of whom are still too young to mask, who are not fully protected,” said pediatrician Dr. Alissa Kahn.

The benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine are clear to Kahn. She wants to be able to give the vaccine to the kids she sees. Many medical professionals do but they can’t. Recently, a group of around 3,000 physicians and American Academy of Pediatrics members signed a letter asking for the FDA to speed up the review process.

For kids like Georgiana, her parents say the vaccine is more than just protection. It’s a key to a normal life.

“What I would say to the people working on the vaccine is please work faster because this is just as important. This is just as pressing of a concern for them as it was for us,” said Boyer.