ATLANTA - About 15 million doses of the lower-dose Pfizer pediatric vaccine are ready to ship, health officials say, and states have already placed their initial orders, signing up about 25,000 vaccine providers for children.
Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Coordinator, says the U.S. has purchased enough vaccine to immunize 28 million children ages 5 to 11.
An FDA advisory panel voted 17-0, with one member abstaining, to recommend the agency authorize the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 5.
The FDA, which typically follows the recommendations of its vaccine advisors, will make a final decision on the pediatric vaccine this week.
Next Tuesday a CDC panel will meet to vote on recommendations for how the vaccine should be distributed.
"Upon FDA authorization of the vaccine, millions of doses will be shipped immediately to tens of thousands of pediatricians, family doctors, children's hospitals, community health centers, rural health clinics and pharmacies, providers parents and kids know and trust," Zients says. "The bottom line is we will be ready following the FDA and CDC decisions, so that parents can get their kids vaccinated quickly, easily and conveniently."
The children's vaccine, which is a third the dose of the 12 and older vaccine, will be color-coded in orange labeling and packaging to cut down on confusion.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey in September found just under a third of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated right away, while about two-thirds of the parents surveyed either plan to wait and see or do not plan to get their kids vaccinated.
"As we've seen with adults, confidence grows over time," Zients says. "At the start of the vaccination program last December, only 34% of adults were eager to get their first shot, and today, nearly 80% of adults over 18 have at least their first shot. "
Health officials plan to launch a major public relations campaign to try to convince parents to get their school-aged children vaccinated.
Zients says the White House is working with the 100-member Children's Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics to provide resources to parents who may have questions about the vaccine.