The White House outlined the early stages of a plan to produce a coronavirus vaccine this month for about 18 million children under the age of 5, the last group of Americans not yet eligible for the shot.
The Biden administration has provided 10 million doses to states and healthcare providers; half were available to order last week, the other half this week. It is offering equal quantities of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
According to data senior administration officials provided to reporters during a briefing Wednesday night, orders from the states have been somewhat subdued. Of the five million doses delivered last week, 58% of the doses, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, were ordered, and nearly a third were manufactured by Moderna.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview an official announcement Thursday, said the initial orders were typical of Covid-19 vaccination campaigns so far, as states typically increase their orders. them over time. However, the use of vaccines by children aged 5 to 11 is still on the rise, a trend that health experts fear could continue for the youngest age group.
A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted in April found that only 18% of parents with children under 5 said they would get their children vaccinated immediately, while 38% said they would wait. see. Their hesitation may be at least partly because viruses are generally less of a risk to young children.
Federal officials said Wednesday that they expect more children under the age of 5 to be vaccinated by pediatricians and primary care physicians. But it said it had organized a network of other locations that could work to vaccinate families, including pharmacies and children’s hospitals.
To reach smaller pediatric offices and rural providers, the doses are being packaged in hundreds, officials said.
Government programs such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Women, Infants and Children Program will work with families to encourage vaccination, officials said. Other groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of Children’s Museums, and the National Diaper Bank Network, will provide educational materials.
Vaccine delivery depends on the Food and Drug Administration allowing doses for children – a step that could happen as soon as next week – and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends them. , this will officially start the campaign. The FDA and its external vaccine advisory group will meet next Wednesday to discuss childhood shots; The CDC’s committee of experts is expected to meet a few days later.
Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the CDC, will be the last to sign.
Officials said they expect to begin vaccination in earnest next week, perhaps starting June 21, and all parents are looking for vaccines for their children. they can find the dose within a few weeks afterwards.
Moderna is applying for a license to give two doses of the vaccine to children under the age of 6, while Pfizer is asking regulators to remove the three-dose vaccine for children under the age of 5.
Federal officials have said that they did not pre-empt regulatory actions by announcing plans to distribute the vaccine before it was authorized. Instead, they said, they are working to prepare families and doctors for a possible rollout. Last year, the White House was criticized for debunking the regulatory review that often precedes vaccination campaigns when it announced a large-scale booster campaign before FDA officials or outside advisers could have been warned. beyond their deliberations, a divisive decision.
Discussions about vaccines for the youngest children are not expected to cause similar disagreements. Parents have long supported this option, and there was a brief glimmer of hope this winter as FDA officials worked to provide two initial doses of Pfizer-BioNTech injections to children as they researched. save the third dose. That plan backfired when data showed that two doses did not provide significant protection against the Omicron variant.
Moderna is recommending a two-dose regimen for children aged 6 months to 5 years, using one-quarter the strength of the adult dose. Pfizer and BioNTech are working on a three-dose regimen for children aged 6 months to 4 years, with a dose one-tenth the adult dose.
White House officials prepare reporters for a briefing on distribution plans again on Thursday at 11 a.m.