WASHINGTON -- If U.S. regulators approve, the White House will begin shipping millions of vaccines to the youngest children next weekend.
Next week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration will meet to discuss data regarding Moderna's vaccine for children ages 6 months to five years.
The White House will administer the first shots to children as soon as possible to those who have recommended vaccinations. Ashish Jha, White House Covid coordinator, said Thursday that the White House would do the same for young children if the recommendations are made. Initial distributions of 10 million doses are planned by federal officials. Millions more doses will be available over the next few weeks.
Jha stated that "we have waited a very long time for this moment." "We are now at the edge of safe and highly effective vaccines for children under five years after the Covid-19 pandemic. We have been waiting for this moment for more than two decades.
Although the Covid funding shortages have not affected the vaccination program for young children, officials stated that they are still struggling to find enough money to purchase the new vaccines they expect to need for fall.
The White House announced Wednesday that it would divert $10 billion from testing and other programs to purchase fall vaccines. However, this won't be enough to provide vaccines to every American. Since March, Congress has not approved a White House request for $22.5 million in Covid funds.
Dawn O'Connell is the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at Health and Human Services.
Jha stated that the administration has made "incredibly painful decisions" by cutting back on testing and personal protection equipment to allow them to begin negotiations with vaccine manufacturers over fall doses.
The Congress previously authorized funds to purchase vaccines for the youngest children.
A senior administration official said that 58 percent of the Pfizer doses and 34% of the Moderna doses have already been ordered from the 5 million doses made available to states and jurisdictions in anticipation for the FDA and CDC's decisions. This week, the next tranche of 5,000,000 doses was available for purchase.
According to this official, the administration isn't worried about the low number of orders and anticipates that states will increase their demand.
The official stated that "our experience has been people are slow to place orders, and this has been true across all of the times we have opened up ordering,"