The Biden White House announced Thursday that it expects Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulators to clear the way for children under 5 to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations as early as June 21.
Biden administration COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha described the plan for making shots available for the last remaining age group to be approved for the vaccine. He said the FDA’s panel of outside advisors is set to meet on June 14 and 15 to discuss approval of the Pfizer and Moderna formulations for the youngest kids.
If approved, the smaller doses will begin being shipped to pediatric care facilities and physicians’ offices immediately with the first shots being given by the following week.
Jha added that states were allowed to begin placing advance orders for pediatric doses of the vaccine last week. He also said that the federal government has already secured an initial supply of 10 million doses.
Jha said it is likely to take a few days for the initial shipments to arrive at locations around the country and appointments might be necessary for a period. He said the White House expects that every parent who wants to get their young child vaccinated will be able to get an appointment.
The expected distribution schedule would allow parents to get their children fully vaccinated according to the regimen expected to be approved before the beginning of the coming school year.
The administration is calling on states to place priority on making high-volume locations like children’s hospitals the first to receive vaccine doses. It is also asking that states make appointments available for parents to bring their children in outside of regular work hours.
The White House has expressed the importance of making the vaccine available to the last age group not yet approved as a way of increasing the confidence the public has in the jab. In the view of the administration, some Americans are still wary of the vaccine as what it says is the best way to “return to pre-pandemic activities.”
Jha said that the administration is aware that many parents of young children are frustrated because they have been waiting for over a year for FDA approval of the vaccine. He said, “At the end of the day we all want to move fast, but we’ve got to get it right.”