Covid-19 vaccine plan for US children fully operational next week: White House

The US government has purchased enough supply for all eligible 28 million children. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - 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.

"The bottom line is there's plenty of supply of the Pfizer vaccine and we look forward to parents having the opportunity to vaccinate their kids," 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 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-microgram dose of the vaccine for children ages 6 to 11.

At the end of last week, the seven-day average number of coronavirus cases dropped 3% to around 69,000 daily cases and the daily deaths average fell 10% to around 1,100, though the average hospitalisation rate climbed 10% to around 5,100 cases, CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said at the same briefing.

US chief medical adviser 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.

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