By Ahmed Aboulenein and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. states have placed initial orders of COVID-19 vaccines for children and millions of doses will be shipped as soon as health regulators authorize their use, the White House said on Wednesday.
The Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine could be available for children ages 5 to 11 as soon as next week after an expert panel on Tuesday voted https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/us-fda-advisers-weigh-pfizerbiontech-covid-19-vaccine-children-2021-10-26 overwhelmingly to recommend the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorize it.
The FDA is not obligated to follow the advice of its outside experts, but usually does. If the FDA authorizes the shots for this age group, an advisory panel to the U.S. 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 authorized for emergency use by the U.S. FDA, Pfizer/BioNTech will begin shipping the pediatric formulation of their COVID-19 vaccine immediately – as directed by the U.S. government,” Pfizer said in a statement.
The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in the United States was down 16% to 65,900 cases per day, the seven-day average hospitalization rate was down 12% 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.
(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein and Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh and Michael Erman; Editing by Chris Reese and Rosalba O’Brien)