White House to set date for Covid vaccination of babies
US regulators will soon approve Covid-19 vaccines for children under five, a top White House health adviser has told reporters, suggesting the green light could come as soon as this month.
Speaking during a press briefing on Thursday, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to discuss the issue during meetings on June 14 and 15, with a formal decision expected “soon thereafter.”
“We expect vaccinations will begin in earnest as early as Tuesday, June 21, and really roll on throughout that week,” the official said, adding “every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment” within a period of “weeks.”
Children younger than 5 are the only age group yet to receive emergency authorization from US health agencies, though vaccination rates for slightly older kids, or those aged 5-11, remain low, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) placing the figure at around 30%.
In mid-May, both the FDA and CDC said booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine could be administered to the 5-11 age group, the most recent move to expand eligibility for Americans. The pharma giant has released multiple data sets in recent weeks showing that while immunity wanes over time, additional doses can improve protection for younger demographics, including babies as young as 6 months.
Jha noted that 10 million vaccine doses would be made available to state governments and private immunization sites immediately, adding that there is “plenty of supply” for young children.
“We’re going to ship doses out as fast as possible,” he continued. “We’re going to make sure that supply is always meeting demand. And we’re going to do everything we can to make it easy for providers and parents alike to get their kids vaccinated.”
While states will be permitted to place orders beginning on Friday, the vaccines will not be shipped until the FDA gives its blessing.