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The White House says coronavirus shots for children under 5 could begin on June 21

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Response coordinator for the White House coronavirus, Ashish Jha, said on Thursday that long-awaited vaccinations for children under 5 can begin as early as June 21, pending decisions by regulators and public health authorities.

States can begin ordering vaccines on Friday, with 10 million doses available. States have been asked to prioritize distribution to high-risk children, hard-to-reach areas and places such as children’s hospitals that will be able to vaccinate a large number of children quickly.

Most shots are expected to be administered at pediatrician offices. There are around 19 million children under the age of 5 in the United States.

Jha said the date was a planning scenario, not a security, and would depend on whether the Food and Drug Administration decides that pediatric vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are safe and effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must also recommend the shots before they can be administered.

“I am not here to predict the outcome of this process. The administration is working hard to plan all kinds of scenarios based on whatever the outcome, Jha said during a news briefing. “If and when the FDA approves, we go from planning to execution.”

The FDA’s external advisers are scheduled to meet on June 14 and 15 to discuss pediatric vaccines, and the agency is expected to act soon after the meeting. If the FDA gives authorization, Jha said, the government could start sending doses.

The CDC’s advisers are expected to meet shortly after the FDA makes a decision, and Jha predicted that vaccinations would begin after the long weekend. June 20 is a public holiday and some doctors’ offices will not be open. He predicted vaccinations could begin no earlier than June 21.

On Wednesday, Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, completed their request for emergency approval of a three-shot vaccine for children from 6 months to 4 years. Moderna submitted its request at the end of April for a two-shot cure for children from 6 months to 6 years. The agency also reviews data on older children and teenagers, since the shooting is currently authorized for people 18 years and older.

Frustrated parents have repeatedly wondered why the review of the Moderna vaccine takes so long, but Jha said the FDA’s decision is based on the agency’s ability to review the data.

“They have gone very fast to consume and analyze a very large tranche of data from Moderna,” said Jha. “At the end of the day, we all want to move fast, but we want to get it right.”

Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biology Evaluation and Research, previously told The Washington Post that the review of the Moderna vaccine was not delayed to allow simultaneous evaluation of the two companies’ vaccines. He added that if the analyzes of the Moderna and Pfizer shots were completed within a week in a row, the FDA would plan for them to be reviewed side by side.

The Moderna cure is two shots, given at four-week intervals. It was shown to be 51 percent effective in preventing disease in children between 6 months and 2 years, and 37 percent effective in children 2 to 5.

The Pfizer cure is three shots. The second shot is given three weeks after the first. The next shot comes two months later. The final effect of the vaccine is not known, but an early analysis – which is likely to change – indicated that it was 80 percent effective against symptomatic disease.

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