The White House announced a plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines for younger children — once authorized — ahead of next week’s FDA advisory meeting.
The plan follows a similar strategy as those for adult and older kids’ vaccinations, including making doses available at pharmacies, hospitals, doctors offices and health clinics.
“The Administration’s vaccination program for America’s youngest children will focus on addressing the specific needs of this age group and their families—recognizing that many parents and guardians will choose to get their kids vaccinated through their pediatrician or primary care doctor,” the White House said in a statement.
The statement also acknowledged the role of other sites.”Eighty-five percent of children under the age of five live within five miles of a potential vaccination site,” the White House added.
Biden’s plan includes distribution of 10 million vaccines to start, but it remains unclear which doses will be part of the first launch and how many doses will be available from each company.
Pfizer (PFE)/ BioNTech (BNTX) has applied for authorization of a vaccine for kids 5 and under, while Moderna’s (MRNA) is for ages 6 and under. Pfizer’s is a three-dose vaccine, and Moderna’s is two doses, with varying degrees of efficacy within their respective age groups.
The government has contracted with both companies to deliver additional doses for kids’ vaccines. The Pfizer agreement includes 50 million doses for kids. Last year, the U.S. government agreed to purchase 200 million more Moderna doses, some of which were to be for teens and kids. Moderna’s applications for both those age groups are slated for next week as well, and would give the country two mRNA options for older kids and teens, if authorized.
Currently, vaccinations in those age groups have lagged adults, prompting concern about uptake for the younger age group.
“While many parents are eager to vaccinate their youngest children, others have questions. To ensure that parents and families have answers to their questions and information from sources that they trust, HHS will work with a broad range of national organizations to launch a national public education campaign that reaches parents, guardians, and families with facts and information that they need to make informed choices for both their youngest and their older children,” the White House said.
The FDA and CDC advisory committees are both holding meetings next week. After each meeting, the agency head will decide whether to move forward with the doses. The FDA’s committee will meet June 14 for Moderna’s pending vaccines, and June 15 for Pfizer’s and Moderna’s youngest age group application. The CDC is meeting on June 17 and 18.
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