Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden, says that he expects COVID-19 vaccinations to open up to younger children in the coming months.
He said Wednesday that children at least as young as 4 "would likely be able to get vaccinated by the time we reach the end of calendar year 2021 and at the latest, into the first quarter of 2022."
When asked during an Axios virtual event whether he would recommend the shots for young children, he responded, "Absolutely. If I had grandchildren, I would certainly recommend they get vaccinated."
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12, allowing the nationwide vaccination campaign to expand to adolescents.
Pfizer was the first vaccine manufacturer to gain emergency use authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds in the United States. Both Pfizer and Moderna are conducting clinical trials of their vaccines in groups of kids as young as 6 months.
Pfizer has said previously it expects to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its vaccine for children younger than 12 by September at the earliest. A request for the youngest group, infants and toddlers, would likely come several months later.
Amid vast disparities in vaccine distribution between countries, global health experts are grappling with how to prioritize vaccines for kids in the U.S. compared with more vulnerable populations in other countries.
"The question becomes, how do we best use the vaccines that are available right now around the world?" Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove of the World Health Organization told NPR.
"It's a very difficult question, but we can't have groups that are at lower risk being vaccinated before those who are most at risk, caring for COVID patients in other parts of the world," she added. Ultimately, she said that high-income countries must share vaccines with other nations, as well as vaccinate children, to help get out of the pandemic.