Children will be one of the last groups in the U.S. to become eligible for the vaccine. Protecting them against COVID-19 is a major step in getting the country back on the path to normalcy after an unexpected late-summer surge that disproportionately impacted unvaccinated Americans and filled hospitals to the brim.
“As a mother and a physician, I know that parents, caregivers, school staff, and children have been waiting for today’s authorization. Vaccinating younger children against COVID-19 will bring us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement Friday afternoon.
The process now heads to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An advisory committee for the CDC will meet on Tuesday to discuss the pediatric vaccine safety and efficacy data, as an advisory FDA panel did this past week, and then CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is expected to give the final signoff soon afterward.
That means kids could begin getting shots at some point next week and become fully vaccinated by December.
In anticipation, the White House planned to unleash millions of vaccine shipments across the nation as soon as FDA authorization was announced. Vaccine sites will have to wait for the CDC’s word to begin administering the vaccine, but stock will be on hand.
“The bottom line is that we will be ready immediately following FDA and CDC decisions so that parents can get their kids vaccinated quickly, easily and conveniently,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said at a briefing with reporters on Thursday.