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First Covid jabs for US children under five possible in weeks, White House says

A Pfizer vaccine (AP)
A Pfizer vaccine (AP)

The Biden administration has said that children under five may be able to get their first Covid-19 vaccination doses as soon as June 21, if federal regulators authorise the shots for the age group, as expected.

White House Covid-19 co-ordinator Ashish Jha outlined the administration’s planning for the last remaining ineligible age group to get shots.

He said the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) outside panel of advisers will meet on June 14 and 15 to evaluate the Pfizer and Moderna shots for younger children.

Shipments to doctors’ offices and paediatric care facilities would begin soon after FDA authorisation, with the first shots possible the following week.

Ashish Jha
Ashish Jha speaks during a briefing at the White House (AP)

Mr Jha said states can begin placing orders for paediatric vaccines on Friday, and said the administration has an initial supply of 10 million doses available.

He said it may take a few days for the vaccines to arrive across the country and vaccine appointments to be widespread.

“Our expectation is that within weeks every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment,” Mr Jha said.

The Biden administration is pressing states to prioritise large-volume sites such as children’s hospitals, and to make appointments available outside regular work hours to make it easier for parents to get their children vaccinated.

Mr Jha acknowledged the “frustration” of parents of youngsters who have been waiting more than a year for shots for their children.

“At the end of the day we all want to move fast, but we’ve got to get it right,” he said.

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