A top health official in the Biden administration, who predicted that federal regulators will soon approve coronavirus vaccines for children under 5, said Thursday that the first doses may be available as early as June 21, and that states, pharmacies and health centers may begin ordering them. from the Biden administration on Friday.
Dr. Ashish Jha, President Biden’s response coordinator for coronavirus, shared the timeline during a White House briefing. He warned that the preparations are conditional on the Food and Drug Administration approving the doses for children from six months to four years, and a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No doses will be sent until the FDA and CDC have opted out.
“I want to be very clear that I am not here to predict the outcome of the process,” said Dr. Jha. “But the administration is working hard to plan all kinds of scenarios based on what the outcome is.”
The nation’s 18 million children under the age of 5 are the last group of Americans for whom Covid vaccines are not available, and the frustration among many parents is palpable. Now, for the first time, they have a specific date, albeit a preliminary one.
Dr. Jha said that although it will take time for the vaccines to become widely available, the White House expects that “within weeks” of an authorization, “all parents who want their children vaccinated will be able to get one hour.” He also said he expects some parents to be reluctant.
Earlier this month, the FDA released its own schedule to evaluate applications from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech to approve doses of their Covid-19 vaccines for young children; A decision on authorization is expected days after an external panel of experts advising the FDA meets on June 14 and 15.
When he made the announcement, Dr. Jha walked a delicate path. Last summer, Mr. Biden caused a stir when he announced that booster shots would be available to many Americans in mid-September pending FDA approval – only to meet opposition from agency executives, who said they needed more time to review the data.
But Dr. Jha said it was important for the White House to plan and be open about planning. He said the administration has worked closely with local health departments, paediatricians and family physicians, as well as pediatric hospitals, and has asked states to distribute the first tranche of doses to “their highest priority locations, including those serving the most at-risk and hard-to-reach children” areas.”