Ashish Jha: COVID-19 vaccines for kids 5 and under could start as soon as June 21

COVID-19 vaccinations for kids under 5 years old should be available starting on June 21 if the doses are cleared by the federal government, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha, M.D., said. 

Jha said during a White House briefing Thursday that advisers with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a committee meeting June 14-15 on applications by Pfizer and Moderna for vaccines to children under five. 

“We expect an FDA decision shortly after the [advisory committee] meeting,” Jha said. 

He added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold its own advisory meeting on the issue, and Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., will make a final decision on its own recommendation. 

“We know that many, many parents are eager to vaccinate their youngest kids and it is important to do this right,” Jha said. “That is what this process has been all about.”

He said that as soon as the FDA grants emergency authorization, the federal government will ship doses to sites across the country.

“We have plenty of supply of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,” Jha added. “We are going to make 10 million doses available to states, pharmacies and community health centers and federal entities to order initially. Starting tomorrow, states can begin to place their orders.”

The federal government wants states to prioritize the distribution of doses to providers serving high-priority sites, such as those distributing to high-risk children. The government also wants states to prioritize potential high-volume sites such as children’s hospitals. 

“We are building this program to meet the specific needs of this specific age group,” he said. “We expect the vast majority of these kids will be vaccinated by their primary care providers.”