The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are both meeting next week to talk about Pfizer and Moderna shots for kids under 5 years old. White House COVID coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha says they have a plan to roll out millions of doses as soon as they get approved.
“We have waited a long time for this moment,” Jha said.
As soon as they get the green light, the White House wants the shots to be ready. Dr. Jha says 10 million doses are already available for local governments and health care providers to order.
“We make these vaccines widely available, highly accessible, so that parents can get their kids vaccinated,” Jha said.
If the vaccines are approved next week, they estimate the shots could start the week of June 20. Dawn O’Connell with the Department of Health and Human Services says the vaccines will be available in a range of places, including at pediatrician offices and community health clinics.
“We estimate that 85% of children under the age of 5 live within 5 miles of a potential vaccination site,” O’Connell said.
Availability is only one piece of the puzzle. Health officials must also convince parents to go out and get their kids vaccinated.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is excited for his daughter to get vaccinated.
“When a vaccine is available for kids under 5, I will be in line with my 4-year-old to get her vaccinated as well,” Murthy said.
But he knows other families may feel hesitant. That’s why part of the White House’s plan is to launch education efforts, including a superhero-themed messaging campaign.
“[So] that they don’t fall prey to misinformation that’s out there but they have the right information so they can make the best decisions for their kids,” Murthy said.
Even if there isn’t a rush to get small children the shots, they’re hopeful the vaccination rate will steadily grow.
“These things take time. That vaccine confidence builds over time,” Jha said.