Children who are younger than 5 years old could soon begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, according to the Biden administration.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said Thursday he expects the vaccine could be approved and ready for use by June 21. Jha also said that most of the 18 million children younger than 5 in the U.S. will be vaccinated by their primary care provider.
“I want to be very clear that I am not here to prejudge the outcome of the process,” Dr. Jha said. “But the administration is hard at work planning all sorts of scenarios based on whatever the outcome is.”
The U.S. has a plentiful supply of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to start the vaccination program, the White House said, and that there are 10 million additional doses that would be made available to states, pharmacies and community health centers if needed.
The Food and Drug Administration’s outside adviser panel is scheduled to meet on June 14-15 to evaluate the Pfizer and Moderna shots for younger kids, and issue authorization for use if the vaccines meet the agency’s standards.
Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would then have to decide if they approve the vaccine, and the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, would have to give the go-ahead before vaccination could start.
“We expect that vaccination will begin in earnest as early as June 21 and really roll on throughout that week,” Jha said.
Shipments to doctors’ offices could begin soon after FDA authorization, with the first shots possible the following week.
According to The Associated Press, states can begin placing orders for pediatric vaccines Friday.
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