The United States and international partners have begun shipping pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses to help other countries protect children and to end the acute phase of the pandemic.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced June 15 at a COVID-19 Global Action Plan meeting at the State Department that the United States is sending 2.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children to Nepal and 300,000 doses of the same vaccine to Mongolia, with more shipments expected when countries want them.
The pediatric doses, donated through COVAX and intended for children ages 5–12, come as more countries approve COVID-19 vaccine doses for children. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5–11 in October and as young as 6 months in June. Numerous countries in Asia, Europe and South America have recently authorized COVID-19 vaccinations for children 12 and older.
New Zealand is providing 50,000 pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses to Fiji, part of a broader effort to support vaccinations and testing in the Pacific Island nations.
More than 30 countries and international organizations attended the June 15 meeting on the COVID-19 Global Action Plan, including representatives from Argentina, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Thailand and the African and European unions, and the World Health Organization.
“The progress we’ve made to date has been possible because of your leadership, because of your engagement, because of your willingness to coordinate and collaborate to what I think is a remarkable degree,” Blinken said. “Now we just need to keep doing it.”
Blinken commended the specific actions of numerous countries, including:
- Colombia increasing efforts to vaccinate Venezuelan refugees.
- India stepping up production of COVID-19 vaccinations.
- Japan, in partnership with UNICEF, providing cold storage equipment and other aid to protect COVID-19 vaccine doses in Mongolia and Nepal, as well as in African and Pacific island nations.
- Australia and New Zealand vaccinating people in Pacific island nations.
The United States has already provided more than 550 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 115 countries, part of a commitment to donate 1.2 billion doses worldwide.
While progress has been made, Blinken said more must be done to get shots in arms, end the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent future health crises. Partners should continue to address information gaps to improve vaccine confidence, increase support for health care workers and strengthen supply chains to bolster access for vaccines, testing and equipment.
The pandemic has taught us “that in this 21st century, health emergencies often can’t be solved by countries working on their own,” Blinken told the virtual meeting. “Viruses don’t respect borders. We are, quite literally, all in this together.”