June 9 (UPI) — Children under five could begin getting COVID-19 vaccine shots as soon as June 20, health officials announced Thursday.
Both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to issue a recommendation before the federal holiday, over whether or not to provide the shots to that age group, officials confirmed Thursday.
“So, what does this mean for you if you’re a parent or a pediatrician? Realistically, it means we could see shots in arms of kids under five as early as the week of June 20th,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said during a news conference to outline the Biden administration’s vaccination plan.
The plan, of course, is predicated on health officials recommend vaccines for the lone age group yet to get approval.
Given the expected closure of medical clinics and doctors’ offices on June 20 for the observance of Juneteenth, Jha said it’s more likely shots could start being given June 21st.
“Let me start off by making one very important point: We are not here to prejudge the outcome of the independent, science-driven process that is being led both by FDA and the CDC,” Jha told reporters.
The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet June 14 and 15, and is expected to make a recommendation shortly after that.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is then expected to meet June 17 and 18. After that meeting, CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky will issue her recommendation.
“If the FDA and CDC recommend these vaccines, this would mark an important moment in the pandemic. It would mean that, for the first time, essentially every American, from our oldest to our youngest, would be eligible for the protection that vaccines provide,” said Jha.
If FDA approval is given for one or both of the two mRNA vaccines, the administration would immediately begin shipping doses across the country to ensure children can easily access the shots.
The federal government estimates 85 percent of children under the age of five live within five miles of a potential vaccination site.
Anticipating the possible approval, the Biden administration has made 10 million vaccine doses available for states, Tribes, territories, community health centers, federal pharmacy partners and others to pre-order.
“Our objective is clear: to be ready to swiftly and efficiently deliver vaccines for kids under the age of five to communities nationwide as soon as the FDA grants emergency use authorization,” Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Dawn O’Connell said during Thursday’s news conference.