Finally some good news for parents of young children: it sounds like COVID-19 vaccinations for kids under 5 could be approved in the United States before the end of June — 18 months after vaccines were made available to American adults.
During a White House briefing on Thursday, Dr. Ashish Jha, the Biden administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, laid out a timeline for authorization of vaccines for emergency use in those aged 5 and under, explaining that the Food and Drug Administration will review data submitted by Pfizer and Moderna during a meeting on June 14 and 15.
“We expect an FDA decision shortly after the advisory committee meeting, and we look forward to this process playing out,” Jha said, according to CNN. “The FDA authorization is not the final step in the process before vaccinations can begin. CDC must also issue its recommendations. If the FDA authorizes the vaccines, the CDC will have its advisory committee meetings and ultimately the CDC director will make her recommendations.”
Jha added that although they don’t know what the outcome will be for sure, the White House is “hard at work planning all sorts of scenarios” with local health departments, pediatricians, primary care providers, and pharmacies to “get ready” for a possible vaccine rollout.
"We expect that vaccinations will begin in earnest as early as Tuesday, June 21st, and really roll on throughout that week," Jha said, cautioning repeatedly that the estimation hinges on the FDA and CDC processes playing out as predicted, according to ABC News.
If and when vaccines are authorized and recommended for the youngest Americans, Jha said he expects appointments will be widely available — noting that most vaccines for kids will be administered by family physicians versus pharmacies. The Biden administration is already making “10 million doses” available to states, who can now begin to place their orders.
"Our expectation is that within weeks, every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment," he said.
According to an April 2022 survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, about one in five parents of children under age 5 (18%) are eager to get their child vaccinated right away, while a larger share (38%) say they plan to wait to see how the vaccine works for others. And about four in 10 parents of children under 5 are more reluctant to get their child vaccinated, with 27% saying they will “definitely not” get their child vaccinated and 11% saying they will only do so if they are required.
Just over half of parents of kids in this age range say they do not have enough information about the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness for children under age 5. But Pfizer and Moderna — who have both submitted data to the FDA for review — have said their vaccines are safe and effective according to their studies. Moderna's shot is two doses, while Pfizer's is three.