How federal decisions on COVID-19 vaccines make their way to Oregon consumers

On Oct. 7, 2021, Pfizer and BioNTech asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorize emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. So when can children under age 12 in Oregon be vaccinated?

The answer depends on how long it takes for the decision to make its way through the process to authorize vaccinations in Oregon.

First the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will review the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5-11. It will then make a recommendation to the FDA. The FDA Advisory Committee has set a tentative date of October 26 to review the request and a ruling is expected in early November.

Next the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will review the FDA’s evaluation and make an official recommendation to the CDC director. If the CDC director recommends moving forward, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup (WSSSRW) will review the data and issue a recommendation for vaccine administration in Oregon, Washington, Utah and California.

If recommendation for the vaccine passes all the steps through the FDA, CDC and the WSSSR, the Oregon Health Authority will issue guidance for the administration of the vaccine. Then Governor Brown, with the guidance of health advisors, may authorize the Pfizer vaccine for Oregon children ages 5-11. 

End-to-end, the process may take a week or more. All entities are sensitive to the urgency of the decision but remain committed to the process of ensuring the safety and efficacy of vaccines before they reach consumers.

Booster shots for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will follow the same steps for authorization. A decision is expected in mid-October.

Flow chart that visually represents and summarizes the information described in this article.