White House Expects COVID Vaccines For Kids 5 And Under Within Weeks

COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 could be available in just a matter of weeks, according to White House officials. On June 2, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha laid out a timeline for the authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines for children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years old during a press briefing (via New York Times). Jha told reporters that the first doses of the vaccines are expected to be available as early as June 21, but stated that pharmacies and community health centers can start ordering additional doses this Friday.

However, this estimated timeline is contingent on the approval and recommendation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The FDA is set to meet on June 15 to consider the emergency use authorization requests from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, after which a CDC panel will make recommendations for the use of the vaccines. According to Jha, the administration is anticipating sending out shipments of the vaccines by June 17. "I want to be very clear that I am not here to prejudge the outcome of the process," Jha said at the press briefing (via New York Times). "But the administration is hard at work planning all sorts of scenarios based on whatever the outcome is."

Pediatric vaccine provides a strong immune response

According to Healthline, this announcement comes just weeks after Pfizer revealed a three-dose COVID-19 vaccine series is 80% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in children under the age of 5. In fact, data from the clinical trials found that a third dose of the vaccine provided a strong and robust immune response in young children by neutralizing antibody levels to prevent infection.

While COVID-19 is still typically mild in most children, there has been an uptick in infections among those who are unvaccinated. In addition, some kids still run the risk of becoming severely ill, which could lead to hospitalization or even death. However, the vaccine series can provide significant protection against the virus and its many variants.

That's why public health officials recommend getting your children vaccinated as soon as the vaccines become available to them. "If a safe and effective vaccine can minimize the disruption of even a mild illness why not take advantage of it (as we do for chickenpox and rotavirus in the U.S.)," Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Healthline.