Vaccinations of young children could begin by June 21
The White House expects vaccinations of young children to begin in earnest as early as June 21, if federal authorities approve their use in the coming weeks, White House COVID response coordinator Ashish Jha said on Thursday.
Jha told reporters that the U.S. government had enough COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc to begin the program for young children if and when the vaccines are approved.
He said the federal government would make 10 million vaccines available to state and local authorities to start broad-based vaccinations of children under 5 years of age.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech on Wednesday completed their filing with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to seek authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine in young children.
No COVID-19 shot is yet approved for children in that age group in most parts of the world. It remains unclear how many parents will get their young ones vaccinated as demand has been low in kids aged 5 to 11.
Moderna in March released trial data that showed a two-dose formulation of its vaccine was safe and generated a similar immune response in young children as in adults.
The FDA’s independent advisers will discuss the two applications in a meeting set for June 14-15, with the FDA expected to make a decision shortly thereafter, Jha said.
He noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also needed to make a recommendation if the FDA authorized the vaccines, and said the agency would set dates for its advisory committee meetings “very, very soon.”
Jha said many doctors’ offices could be closed on June 20 for the Juneteenth holiday, but if FDA and CDC approved the vaccines, vaccinations of young children would begin “in earnest” as early as June 21.
“Our expectation is that within weeks every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment,” he said. “We’re going to ship doses out as fast as possible.”