Vaccines to protect children ages five to 11 from Covid-19 will be available in the US in early to mid-November, Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s chief medical adviser, predicted on Sunday.
A review panel of the US food and drug administration (FDA) found last week that the benefits of Pfizer-BioNTech shots for the younger age group outweighed the risks, setting up an advisory meeting on Tuesday of outside FDA experts who are expected to recommend emergency use authorization.
With final approval from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) likely to come the following week, Fauci said he believed pediatric vaccines would start going into arms in short order.
“If all goes well, and we get the regulatory approval and the recommendation from the CDC, it’s entirely possible if not very likely that vaccines will be available for children from five to 11 within the first week or two of November,” Fauci told ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
“You never want to get ahead of the FDA in their regulatory decisions, nor the CDC and their advisers on what the recommendation would be, but if you look at the data that’s been made public, the data look good.”
Pfizer has claimed its coronavirus vaccine is 91% effective in the five-11 age group. The extension of vaccine availability to those younger than 12 is seen as a key step in getting a pandemic that has killed more than 735,000 in the US under control.
Despite polls showing that more parents than previously are willing to allow their children to be vaccinated, there remains significant hesitance. Only one third of parents with children ages five to 11 say they will vaccinate their child right away, according to Kaiser, while one in four say they will not allow it under any circumstances.
“We know we have a lot of work to do,” Dr Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
“Those survey data look very much consistent with where we were with adults last December, when we rolled out vaccines for adults. We have done a huge amount of hard work over the last 10 months, education, communication, providing information, getting vaccines to really convenient places.”
Walensky said vaccines for children would be available nationwide in tens of thousands of venues from pediatrician and primary care offices, children’s hospitals, pharmacies, school clinics and community health centers.
“We’re doing absolutely all of that hard work now,” she said. “As soon as we have both the FDA authorization and the CDC recommendations there will be vaccine out there so children can start rolling up their sleeves.”