WASHINGTON: US states have placed initial orders of COVID-19 vaccines for children and millions of doses will be shipped as soon as health regulators authorise their use, the White House said on Wednesday (Oct 27).
The Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine could be available for children ages 5 to 11 as soon as next week after an expert panel on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to recommend the US Food and Drug Administration authorise it.
The FDA is not obligated to follow the advice of its outside experts, but usually does. If the FDA authorises the shots for this age group, an advisory panel to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet next week to make a recommendation on the administration of the vaccine. The CDC director will make the final call.
"The bottom line is that we will be ready immediately following FDA and CDC decisions so that parents can get their kids vaccinated quickly, easily and conveniently," White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters.
"If authorised for emergency use by the US FDA, Pfizer/BioNTech will begin shipping the paediatric formulation of their COVID-19 vaccine immediately - as directed by the US government," Pfizer said in a statement.
The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in the United States was down 16 per cent to 65,900 cases per day, the seven-day average hospitalisation rate was down 12 per cent to 5,500 a day, and daily deaths were also declining, with the seven-day average standing at 1,100 a day, CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said at the same briefing.
There are 60 million eligible Americans who remain unvaccinated, she added.