White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients outlined the administration’s plans to deploy Covid-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, contingent on approval by the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a number of operations geared specifically towards vaccinating children.
“We expect the FDA and CDC’s decision on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 in the next couple of weeks. We know millions of parents have been waiting for Covid-19 vaccine for kids in this age group, and should the FDA and CDC authorize the vaccine, we will be ready to get shots in arms,” Zients told reporters during Wednesday’s Covid briefing.
The FDA has already scheduled a meeting of its independent advisers, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee or VRBPAC, for Oct. 26 to discuss the data. VRBPAC, which includes several pediatricians, will listen to what both Pfizer and the FDA have to say about what studies show and will also hear public input.
The FDA could act quickly after the VRBPAC meeting – in hours, even – and then vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is made up of different experts.
ACIP has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday and Wednesday Nov. 2-3 to discuss the question. The CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, will then decide whether kids should get the vaccine based on this input.
It could take five weeks after the first dose for kids' to have full immunity:
Just as with adults, Pfizer is testing and proposing a two-dose series for kids. So that would mean two doses of vaccine given three weeks apart. And as with adults, immunity isn't immediate, even after the second dose. People have been considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose and the same will go for kids.
So at the very earliest, children would be advised to continue taking precautions for five weeks after they get the first dose of vaccine. That means wearing masks, keeping a physical distance from others and avoiding crowded indoor spaces when possible.
As for boosters, it's far too soon to ask about them. It took several months of gathering real-world data before Pfizer asked FDA to authorize boosters in adults.