Although several million pediatric doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine should be available in the next few days, the vaccination program for children ages 5 to 11 in the United States will only begin to “work in full force” in the second week of November, a senior White House official said Monday.
Jeffrey D. Zients, the administration’s pandemic response coordinator, said the government will deliver several million doses to doctors’ offices, pharmacies, health clinics and other sites in the coming days. But it seemed to dispel expectations that all the backorders states have placed for pediatric vaccines will be filled immediately.
“We are planning some vaccines towards the end of this week,” he said, adding that the government will deliver a total of 15 million doses “over the next week or so.”
There are 28 million children ages 5 to 11 in the United States. Surveys indicate that only one in three parents will allow their children to be vaccinated immediately.
Zients, speaking at a briefing at the White House, said the government began shipping doses within minutes of clearance from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday afternoon Pfizer-BioNTech Emergency Vaccine for Young Children. “We started the process of moving 15 million doses from Pfizer’s freezers and facilities to distribution centers,” he said, where they will be shipped to vaccination sites.
“More doses will be packed, shipped and delivered every day for the next week,” he said.
The pediatric release depends on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which establish the vaccine policy. The agency often follows the recommendations of its expert advisory panel, which meets Tuesday on the topic of Pfizer dosages for children ages 5 to 11.
Zients said setbacks to Moderna’s hopes of offering its vaccine to teens and younger children would not affect the vaccination campaign, because the government had only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those age groups. “We are in very good shape in terms of supply,” he said. “We have more than enough vaccines for every child from 5 to 11 years old.”
During the weekend, Moderna announced that it would delay the application for regulatory authorization half a dose of your vaccine for children in that age group. The company decided to pull out after regulators informed it that they may not complete their review this year of Moderna’s earlier request to offer a full dose of its vaccine to teens ages 12 to 17.