Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb predicted Sunday on "Face the Nation" that the Biden administration could begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for children as soon as November 4 or 5, right after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel will decide whether to allow Pfizer's vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
Gottlieb said the Biden administration is making the effort to push the vaccine directly into pediatricians' offices. Pfizer, which Gottlieb sits on the board, is developing a small tray that carries 10 vials at a time and a storage container that is small enough for small to medium-sized pediatrician's office to stock the vaccine and deliver it.
"It could be stored in a regular refrigerator for up to 10 weeks. It was purposely packaged that way," Gottlieb said. "And so, the idea is to try to get it into pediatrician's offices because we know that getting children vaccinated is a much more consultative endeavor."
Gottlieb said many parents may not want to drag their children into a mass vaccination site or pharmacy and would rather have their children in the comfort of their own pediatrician's office.
Pfizer and BioNTech asked the FDA to authorize the vaccine for children 5 to 11 in early October. On Friday, scientists at the FDA said that the likely benefits of giving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to 5- to 11-year-olds far outweigh the potential risks, such as heart inflammation.
On Tuesday, the FDA's advisory panel will meet to review the data and evidence of the vaccine's safety and effectiveness in children, and vote on whether the FDA should authorize the use.
"If Pfizer does get the authorization on Tuesday from FDA, even before the CDC votes on this on November 2 and 3, they'll start to ship it into the supply chain so it will be available for use once there is a hopefully positive vote from CDC, said Gottlieb. So, it could be as early as November 4 and 5 that you can go into some locations and get your child vaccinated," he said.
Although kids are at a lower risk of having a severe outcome due to contracting the virus, many have been hospitalized. According to the CDC, at least 731 children have died from COVID-19, including 160 deaths in the 5- to 11-year-old age range.