fb-pixel Skip to main content

Clearance for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 could come as soon as early November, and officials have held talks with states in preparation for the rollout, White House officials said on Wednesday.

A Food and Drug Administration committee will meet to discuss Pfizer’s vaccine in the age group on Oct. 26, and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee will meet Nov. 2, setting up potential clearance of the shots in the following days, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general, said during a press briefing by the White House’s COVID-19 response team.

“We could hear decisions from both agencies, the FDA and CDC, by early November, and we will be ready to implement their recommendations as soon as we hear them,” Murthy said.


Pfizer last week asked federal regulators to clear its vaccine in children 5 to 11, saying kids should get one-third of the dose being administered now to everyone else.

In anticipation of the authorization for the age group, federal officials have begun reaching out to states advising them on the rollout.

“We’ve asked governors to take steps to enroll providers, such as pediatricians,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said. “We’ll rely heavily on pediatricians and family doctors in the vaccination program so they can begin providing vaccinations right away. We’ve asked states to plan outreach and education campaigns, focused on parents and families in the communities, and we’ve communicated, and will continue to communicate that equity, as it has been with all of our efforts, needs to be front and center. That means ensuring that we have sites in areas of high social vulnerability and also in rural areas.”

The vaccinations will also be administered at some schools, Zients said.

“We’ll bring that vaccine as we’ve talked about to pediatricians’ offices, also directly to schools where appropriate and to community sites,” Zients said.


Consideration of vaccines in younger children comes as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have decreased in the past week, while the number of vaccinations administered has gone up in the wake of President Biden’s federal vaccine requirement, the officials said.

Last week, the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases was 92,600 per day, about a 12 percent decrease from the previous week, and the seven-day average of hospital admissions was 7,080 per day, about an 11 percent decrease from the previous week. Deaths have also decreased by about 5 percent from the previous week, now averaging about 1,400 per day, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC Director, said during the briefing.

While the United States is currently experiencing a decline in new cases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the country is still looking to achieve “a level of control of the virus” that would allow a complete return to normalcy. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, levels of COVID-19 have surged and then abated, but never reached a level low enough to be considered controlled adequately, Fauci explained.

“Where do we need to be to get control?” Fauci said. “We need to get that curve to go much further down than it is because we’re dealing with a situation where you have a highly transmissible virus, and where the dynamics of the virus are at 80 to 90,000 cases a day, that’s not where you want to be.”


The way to achieve that level of control is getting more of the population vaccinated, Fauci said. There are about 66 million Americans who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not received the shots.

“Particularly among the younger groups, we have a long way to go,” Fauci said. “We can get to control, without a doubt, it is within our power, and within our capability.”

It is “absolutely encouraging” that the number of cases is dropping, Walensky added, but it’s important to continue engaging in the preventative measures that help stop the spread of the virus as the colder months approach.

“Despite the recent decrease in cases, most communities across the country are still experiencing substantial to high levels of community transmission, and we’re certainly not in a place where our cases are in a control area, as Dr. Fauci noted,” Walensky said. “So we absolutely need to stay focused on continuing to get COVID under control around the country, especially as we head into the fall, winter season, respiratory virus season, and that includes sticking with our preventive measures that we know work.”

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.