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The Biden administration today said it made available 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5 to states and healthcare workers with “millions more available in the coming weeks.”
The White House unveiled its “Operational Plan” for vaccinating the youngest age group — one week before advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are scheduled to meet to decide whether to grant Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna pediatric vaccines for babies as young as 6 months old.
According to the White House:
“If FDA authorizes and [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] recommends one or both of the COVID-19 vaccines for this age group, it would be a historic milestone in the nation’s fight against the virus — and would mean nearly every American is eligible for the protection that vaccination provides.”
Children under 5 could begin receiving the vaccines as early as “the week of June 20th — with the program ramping up over time as more doses are delivered and more appointments become available,” the White House said.
Senior administration officials told The New York Times orders for the vaccines from states “have been somewhat tepid so far.”
Of the 5 million doses offered last week — prior to today’s announcement — 58% of the available Pfizer vaccines were ordered, and “roughly a third” of the available Moderna vaccines had been ordered.
The vaccines, paid for by the U.S. government, are being made available to pediatricians’ offices, community health centers, rural health clinics, children’s hospitals, public health clinics, local pharmacies and other community-based organizations.
The administration said it “will remain laser-focused on equity and making sure that we reach those hardest-hit and most at-risk communities.”
The plan includes working with programs such as Head Start and the Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, Program in addition to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, and Latino, Black and Native American community programs.
The White House also will focus on parents, especially moms:
“‘What to Expect,’ a platform of over 20 million moms, will author a blog series featuring doctors and other trusted experts answering questions about pediatric COVID-19 vaccines, and how moms, expecting moms, and all parents can get the information they need to get themselves and their children vaccinated; author new articles dispelling myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and children; and create and amplify new What to Expect social media content, reaching moms where they are and fighting vaccine misinformation across all platforms.”
Critics question need, raise safety, efficacy concerns
Many experts have questioned the need to vaccine young children in part because the virus poses little-to-no serious risk to them and in part because, according to the CDC, the majority of children have already had, and recovered from the virus.
Dr. Marty Makary last week told Fox News the COVID-19 vaccines do “not make sense” for most kids.
Makary, a physician and public health researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said:
“If you look at the fact that 75% of kids had COVID as of a CDC study back in February and Omicron has been ubiquitous since then, 80 to 90 plus percent of kids have already had COVID. So we’re talking about immunizing those who are already immune for a lot of people. That just does not make sense.
Others, including Dr. Michelle Perro, a pediatrician, have warned about the risks associated with the vaccine, and evidence the vaccines provide weak protection, especially as they were designed for the original Wuhan strain which has been supplanted by a wave of new strains.
They asked the agency to, “Please list the medical emergencies of children 0 to 4 years old that enables the FDA to approve the COVID vaccine for children using its EUA.”
In all, the Congress members demanded answers to 19 questions and requested a response before next week’s meeting.
Commenting on today’s announcement by the White House and on its timing — a week before FDA scientists meet to review data on the vaccines — Children’s Health Defense (CHD) Chairman and Chief Legal Counsel Robert F. Kennedy Jr. called on parents and physicians “now more than ever” to “step into the breach to protect our babies from our government.”
Kennedy said the COVID-19 countermeasures, including the vaccines, were “never about science or public health.”
“Now they have departed from common sense and into naked cruelty and barbarism. By recommending an unapproved, experimental, zero-liability and high-risk medical intervention for an illness that poses zero statistical danger to that age group, the White House has made itself the enemy of America’s children.
“The Pharma gods have demanded child sacrifice and the high priests of public health have offered a generation of infants. Now more than ever, parents and physicians must step into the breach to protect our babies from our government.”
Kennedy and CHD in February delivered a letter to top public health officials and the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee urging them to reject Pfizer’s application for EUA of its COVID vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years of age.
According to the letter:
“We are writing to put you on notice that should you recommend this pediatric EUA vaccine to children under five years old, CHD is poised to take legal action against you.
“CHD will seek to hold you accountable for recklessly endangering this population with a product that has little, no, or even negative net efficacy but which may put them, without warning, at risk of many adverse health consequences, including heart damage, stroke and other thrombotic events and reproductive harms.”
The FDA was originally scheduled to meet Feb. 15 to review Pfizer’s EUA application for COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years old, but postponed the meeting citing insufficient data. Pfizer resubmitted its application June 1.
Moderna submitted its application for the vaccine for children 6 months to age 6 on April 28, after changing its efficacy claims to meet FDA guidelines.