WASHINGTON: The United States is rolling out Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 this week, but most of the 15 million shots being shipped initially are unlikely to be available before next week, the White House said on Monday (Nov 1).
Millions of doses specifically formulated for children of that age group will start arriving at distribution centres over the next few days, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said, and the federal government has purchased enough supply for all eligible 28 million children.
"We are ready to execute, pending CDC's decision. And starting the week of November 8th, our vaccination program for kids ages 5 through 11 will be running at full strength," Zients told reporters at a briefing.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorised the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years, making it the first COVID-19 shot for young children in the United States.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still needs to advise on how the shot should be administered, which will be decided after a group of outside advisers discuss the plan on Tuesday.
Following the CDC's decision, parents will be able to visit vaccines.gov and filter locations offering the vaccine for the children, Zients said.
"The whole plan is based on Pfizer vaccines," he said.
Moderna said on Sunday it would delay filing its request for an emergency use authorisation for a half-strength 50-microgramme dose of the vaccine for children ages 6 to 11.
Shares in Moderna fell 2.3 per cent, or US$8.04, to $337.17 on Monday while Pfizer shares were off 10 cents at US$43.64.
At the end of last week, the seven-day average number of coronavirus cases dropped 3 per cent to around 69,000 daily cases, the average hospitalisation rate fell 10 per cent to around 5,100 cases, and the daily deaths average fell 10 per cent to around 1,100, CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said at the same briefing.
US Chief Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci said it was "very likely" everyone would be able to get a vaccine booster shot "within a reasonable amount of time."
Currently the CDC recommendations for boosters cover specific categories of people.