'We Are Not Waiting': Expecting CDC OK, U.S. Shipping Millions of Vaccine Doses For Kids

The Biden administration has begun shipping out millions of vaccine doses as they await the CDC's approval to have children ages 5 to 11 vaccinated.

According to The Associated Press, these new doses could be distributed to U.S. kids by the middle of the week.

During a briefing, coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients justified sending shipments before the CDC's official approval. "We are not waiting on the operations and logistics," he said in light of the special advisory board meeting the organization will have on Tuesday regarding child vaccines.

"We're in great shape on supply," added Zients during the briefing. The U.S. has enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine for all 28 million children in the qualifying age group. At the same time, the White House hopes that parents will be able to get their children vaccinated in various places across the country, including pediatrician offices and pharmacies.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will make the final decision on child vaccinations during Tuesday's meeting. However, she has already attempted to alleviate concerns regarding the shots, saying that the Pfizer vaccine, in particular, has been effective in young children with no severe side effects.

"There has been a great deal of anticipation from parents," Walensky said. "I encourage parents to ask questions."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Pfizer Dose for Kids
Syringes loaded with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine lie ready for use by a nurse, in Jackson, Miss., on Sept. 21, 2021. The White House has begun packing and shipping these vaccines, aiming to begin vaccinating children ages 5 to 11 this week. AP

By vaccinating children, the U.S. hopes to head off another coronavirus wave during the cold-weather months when people spend more time indoors and respiratory illnesses can spread more easily. Cases have been declining for weeks, but the virus has repeatedly shown its ability to stage a comeback, and more easily transmissible mutations are a persistent threat.

On Tuesday, a special advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet to consider detailed recommendations for administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to younger children. The Food and Drug Administration already cleared the shots, which deliver about one-third of the vaccine given to adults.

The children's vaccination drive is expected to start later this week and go into full swing by next week. Parents will be able to go to vaccines.gov and filter on vaccines for children 5-11 to find a location near them that is offering the shot.

Pfizer's vaccine already has been authorized for use in older children.

"More doses will be packed and shipped and delivered," Zients added. "More and more vaccine will come on line as we ramp up."

Separately, Zients announced that about 70 percent of U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated, while 80 percent have received at least one vaccine dose.