COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 and younger could begin as early as the week of June 20, the White House said Thursday.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will decide next week whether to authorize the first ever COVID-19 vaccines for kids 5 and younger. If the FDA and the CDC approve, it would mean "nearly" every American is eligible for a vaccine, the White House said.
The administration said it has 10 million vaccine doses on hand for states, tribes, territories, community health centers, pharmacies and others to pre-order. More doses will be shipped in coming weeks. According to the White House, 85% of children younger than 5 will live within five miles of a potential vaccination site.
"The administration’s vaccination program for America’s youngest children will focus on addressing the specific needs of this age group and their families—recognizing that many parents and guardians will choose to get their kids vaccinated through their pediatrician or primary care doctor," the White House said in a news release.
Pfizer has asked FDA to authorize three doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 month to 4 years. Each dose is one-tenth of the amount adults receive.
Moderna has asked FDA to authorize two shots for kids ages 6 months to 5 years, each containing a quarter of the dose given to adults.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DEC. 30: From left: Eight-year-old Joshua B. at his second appointment for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine administered by Alexandria Morrison, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in San Francisco, Calif. (Santiago Mejia/ The San Francisco Chron
Young children are the last group of Americans who have not been recommended to get COVID-19 vaccinations. Up to about 20 million U.S. children under 5 would become eligible for vaccination if the government authorizes one or both shots, but it’s not clear how popular the shots will be. A recent survey suggests only 1 in 5 parents of young children would get their kids vaccinated right away.
And public health officials have been disappointed at how many older U.S. children, who have been eligible for shots for months, have yet to be vaccinated: Less than one-third of kids ages 5 to 11 have gotten the two recommended doses, according to government figures.
According to the White House, 220 million Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and more than 100 million people have gotten a booster shot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.