(Reuters) – Pre-orders of vaccines for children under age five have been slow, but Biden administration senior officials say they are not alarmed and expect the pace to pick up after federal approvals later this month.
The administration expects vaccinations of young children to start as early as June 21 if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve the vaccines next week, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said on Thursday.
“We think that vaccinations would really start in earnest on Tuesday, June 21, and importantly, the vaccination program is going to ramp up in the days and weeks that follow,” he said.
The vaccines will be distributed to pediatricians, children’s hospitals, local pharmacies and local health clinics, Jha told reporters in a briefing.
The administration has allowed states and others to pre-order from an initial batch of 5 million Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – 2.5 million each – as a way to expedite getting needles in arms.
Thus far, 58% of the available 2.5 million Pfizer vaccines have been ordered and just 34% of the Moderna vaccines, officials said.
No COVID-19 shot has yet been approved for children in the five and under age group in most parts of the world. It remains unclear how many parents will get their young ones vaccinated as demand has been low in kids aged five to 11.
The administration has learned from previous campaigns that the people weighing whether to take a vaccine or get their child vaccinated will be influenced by those they trust, such as doctors and community leaders.
“We will be working closely with community partners, as we have done in the past, to make sure that community members are hearing from local leaders and organizations that they know and trust,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said at the briefing.
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