Vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years can begin as early as next week.

Several states have already placed orders with the federal government for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 years, Jeff Zients, the White House coordinator for combating the pandemic, said. Millions of doses will be sent to the states as soon as public health authorities authorize their use.

The COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech may become available to children aged 5 to 11 years as early as next week after a group of experts on Tuesday overwhelmingly recommended that the FDA allow the use of the vaccine for children

The FDA is not obliged to follow the advice of external experts, however, as a rule, the agency agrees with the expert opinion. If the FDA allows vaccination of this age group, an advisory group will meet next week at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which will have to issue recommendations on the use of the vaccine. The final approval for the use of the vaccine will have to be given by the director of the CDC.

“We will be ready immediately so that after the FDA and CDC make a decision, parents can vaccinate their children quickly and easily,” Zients said, answering questions from reporters at a press briefing at the White House.

“If approved by the FDA for emergency use of the vaccine, Pfizer/BioNTech will immediately begin supplying a pediatric version of its COVID-19 vaccine – in accordance with the instructions of the U.S. authorities,” Pfizer said in a statement.

The average number of COVID-19 infections in the United States in seven days decreased by 16% to 65.9 thousand cases per day, the average number of hospitalizations over the past week fell by 12% to 5.5 thousand per day. According to CDC director Rochelle Walensky, coronavirus deaths have also decreased in the United States – over the past seven days, 1,100 people have died on average daily from complications related to COVID-19.

Walensky added that 60 million Americans eligible for vaccination have not taken advantage of this opportunity.