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Ashish Jha: FDA may rule on boosters for kids under 5 in 'next few weeks'

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Ashish Jha: FDA may rule on boosters for kids under 5 in 'next few weeks'
White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said the FDA could decide on whether to make vaccine booster shots for children younger than 5 in "the next few weeks." File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

May 22 (UPI) -- White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said Sunday that the Food and Drug Administration could make a decision on whether children younger than 5 can receive a vaccine booster shot in "the next few weeks."

Jha, appearing on ABC News' This Week, noted that Moderna had completed its application for a vaccine booster to be administered to children below the age of 5 and that FDA experts were currently examining those data.

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"My expectation is that as soon as that analysis is done, probably within the next few weeks, we're going to get that expert outside committee, the [Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee] and then after that, FDA's going to make a decision," he said. "So my hope is that it's going to be kind of coming in the next few weeks."

Jha made the comments as children aged 5-11 can begin receiving booster doses after U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky approved a recommendation made earlier in the day by the CDC's independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, advising a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for that age group.

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Demand for vaccines for younger children comes as Walensky on Wednesday that the United States is experiencing a rise in COVID-19 with the seven-day daily case average reaching 94,000 cases per day, along with 3,000 hospital admissions and 275 daily deaths.

The Biden administration has also forecast a wave of COVID-19 in the fall and winter amid waning vaccine immunity with a potential for 100 million infections and upticks in deaths and hospitalizations.

Jha told This Week host Martha Raddatz that Congress should approve funding for COVID-19 resources in the face of these potential waves.

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"One of the reasons I've been talking a lot about the need for Congress to step up and fund this effort, is if they don't, Martha, we will go into the fall and winter without that next generation of vaccines, without treatments and diagnostics," he said. "That's going to make it much, much harder for us to take care of and protect Americans."

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