The White House COVID-19 response team said Monday it is anticipating final approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is prepared to administer the first vaccines to U.S. children ages 5-11 later this week.
Last Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency approval for the distribution of children’s doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC’s advisory committee will consider the children’s doses of the vaccine for approval on Tuesday.
But during the White House COVID-19 briefing Monday, response coordinator Jeff Zients said the White House has been preparing for this moment for weeks. He said almost two weeks ago officials reached out to states and took their initial orders for the vaccine.
The FDA’s announcement Friday prompted the White House to begin sending the children’s doses of the vaccine to pediatricians, pharmacies and community health centers all over the country. Zients said, pending CDC approval, the first children will get their initial vaccinations perhaps as early as Wednesday, and certainly by the end of the week.
He said by this time next week – the week of Nov. 7 – the children vaccination program will be fully up and running across the country. Zients said again, the White House has procured 28 million children’s doses of the Pfizer vaccine, enough for every child between the ages of 5 and 11 in the United States.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky offered assurance the CDC advisory committee will conduct a comprehensive, fair and open review of the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine for children. She said the vaccine, once approved, will be an important tool for protecting children from the virus that causes COVID-19. Walensky added that the best protection for children is surrounding them with vaccinated adults.
Walensky said that while, as of Monday, 70 percent of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, there are still 60 million U.S. residents who are unvaccinated. She urged anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so.