Covid vaccine shots for kids under 5 could be available as soon as June 21

WASHINGTON — Covid vaccinations for the youngest children could begin as early as June 21 if the shots are cleared by federal regulators, White House Covid coordinator Ashish Jha said Thursday.

“We expect that vaccinations will begin in earnest as early as Tuesday, June 21, and really roll out throughout that week,” Jha told reporters at a White House briefing on the status of vaccination efforts.

Food and Drug Administration advisers are scheduled to discuss vaccinations for kids 6 months to 4 years old during a June 14-15 meeting, and the White House expects the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make their recommendations soon after, Jha said. Vaccines would start arriving at health care facilities the following weekend if they are approved, he added.

Parents have been anxiously awaiting Covid vaccines for young kids — children under 5 are the only ones unable to get shots at this time. The White House had been expecting to start vaccinating the youngest age group as early as February, but the timeline was pushed back after Pfizer said two doses didn’t generate a strong enough immune response in a trial of children under 5.

The vaccinations for the youngest kids require a formulation different from those for adults and older kids.

The U.S. has plenty of supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines specifically formulated for the youngest kids, Jha said Thursday. The federal government plans to make 10 million doses available for states, pharmacies and health centers to order starting Friday, and those doses will be shipped as soon as the shots are cleared by the FDA, he said.

The White House is asking states to distribute the first doses to places with children at the highest risk, including hospitals and hard-to-reach areas.