SALEM, Ore. — Oregon parents hoping to get their infants and young children vaccinated against COVID-19 may not have to wait much longer. Federal authorization could arrive as early as the end of this week, according to Oregon health officials, who are offering advice for parents about how to prepare.
A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee is currently scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider the available data on the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years and the Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 months to 6 years, according to Rudy Owens with the Oregon Health Authority.
If the FDA recommends granting an emergency use authorization, an advisory committee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would conduct its own review on Friday and Saturday.
If the CDC greenlights the pediatric doses, the last step to clearing the way for Oregon distribution would be for the Western States Advisory Group to give the go-ahead, which Owens said could happen as early as Saturday or Sunday.
Vaccine providers in Oregon have already started pre-ordering pediatric vaccine doses, Owens said, and shipments should start right after the authorization is granted and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) publishes guidance for providers.
Assuming pediatric shots are authorized, the first wave of 43,400 vaccine doses (evenly split between Pfizer and Moderna) would arrive on June 20, Owens said, with another 43,400 set to arrive over the following week starting June 21.
In terms of demand, there are about 230,000 children in Oregon between 6 months and 5 years old, Owens said. After vaccines were authorized for children ages 5 to 11 last year, 27% of Oregon children in that age range received doses in the first 10 weeks. For children under 5, that same rate of uptake would mean 62,000 children would get their shots in the first 10 weeks.
The first doses will be sent to tribal providers, local public health authorities, federally qualified health centers and hubs that support rural communities and OHA-run events, Owens said, in order to prioritize equity.
OHA is encouraging providers to not start scheduling appointments until the vaccine is authorized and they begin receiving doses, Owens said. The state will update its online vaccine locator tool as soon as providers start receiving shipments.
Parents interested in scheduling a vaccination for their child should check the online tool or contact their provider to see if and when doses will be available. Most parents will likely get vaccines for their children with their primary care physician, Owens said.