Bhutan gears up as U.S FDA expected to approve vaccines for under five from late June

The COVID-19 vaccination for children under five years of age are expected to begin as early as 21 June, as per the international sources. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to make its decision on Pfizer and Moderna shots for children under five, soon after the experts review the data on 15 June.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would then issue its recommendations quickly after the FDA decision, which would allow vaccinations to begin.

According to the White House Press Briefing on 9 June 2022, Dr Ashish Jha, the White House COVID response coordinator stated that they are going to ship doses, only after the FDA authorizes the shots, as fast as possible to meet all the demands, and make it easy for providers and parents to get their kids vaccinated.

Pfizer said its three-dose vaccine for children ages 6 months through 4 years old was 80 percent effective at preventing illness from the Omicron variant. The shots are three micrograms, one-tenth the dosage level for adults.

As per CDC, COVID-19 can cause severe illness in children. Children with underlying medical conditions are at an increased risk for severe illness, although children without underlying medical conditions can also experience severe illness

Children under the age of five are the only unvaccinated group in Bhutan. Since these children are unvaccinated, the virus can continue to spread and then infect the older people who are at more risk. So vaccinating children under five is very important, stated the international experts.

So far 3,419 children under age five have been infected with the COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in Bhutan, and there has been one death of an infant (one month 22 days old) infected with COVID-19 who succumbed to cardiac complications in Phuentsholing hospital on 17 March 2022.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has already collected the data on the number of children under age five who will be getting COVID-19 vaccine. It will be roll out in a campaign mode, like it was done for adult, adolescent and children aged 5-11 years vaccination.

The MoH and the Foreign Ministry are already in touch with the companies for supply of the vaccines. This vaccination will help many parents to breathe easier and lead to further opening up.

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