The White House announced Wednesday it has a plan in place to vaccinate every child age five to 11 in the United States, pending the anticipated approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children in next few weeks.
During a virtual briefing with reporters, White House Coronavirus Coordinator Jeff Zients said the Biden administration has been working with state and local officials for the past several weeks to ensure that vaccinations for young children are safe and readily available.
He said they have worked with Pfizer to make packaging easier for pediatricians and other family doctors to provide vaccines to children, including providing smaller needles. Zients said the White House has enrolled more than 25,000 pediatricians, family doctors, children's hospitals, pharmacies and community and rural health centers to help distribute vaccines.
U.S Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said they want trusted doctors and other health experts to speak about the safety of the vaccinations if and when they are approved, in an attempt to head off any politics or misinformation that may make parents hesitant to get their children vaccinated.
Zients acknowledged it is possible the vaccine could not be approved for children, but said they want the system in place.
He said vaccines remain the most effective way out of the pandemic. He said that as of Wednesday, 193 million eligible U.S. residents are fully vaccinated, more than two out of three eligible people, ages 12 and over. He said if the vaccine is approved for younger children, it will make another 28 million people eligible for vaccine.
The Food and Drug Administration’s independent advisory committee is scheduled to meet October 26 to consider emergency approval for use of the vaccine on children, followed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent advisory committee November 2 and 3.