Thu | Dec 9, 2021

White House details plans to vaccinate 28M children age 5-11

Published:Wednesday | October 20, 2021 | 9:47 AM
In this May 19, 2021, file photo, Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses are prepared for members of the community 12 years and up at a clinic held by Community of Hope, outside the Washington School for Girls in southeast Washington. Kids aged 5 to 11 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 shot at their paediatrician’s office, local pharmacy and potentially even their school. The White House is detailing plans Wednesday for the expected authorization of the Pfizer shot for younger children in a matter of weeks. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, file)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Children age 5 to 11 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 shot at their paediatrician's office, local pharmacy and potentially even their school, the White House said Wednesday as it detailed plans for the expected authorisation of the Pfizer shot for younger children in a matter of weeks.

Federal regulators will meet over the next two weeks to weigh the benefits of giving shots to kids, after lengthy studies meant to ensure the safety of the vaccines.

Within hours of formal approval, expected after the Food and Drug Administration signs off and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel meeting scheduled for November 2-3, doses will begin shipping to providers across the country, along with smaller needles necessary for injecting young kids, and within days will be ready to go into the arms of kids on a wide scale.

About 15 million doses will be shipped to providers across the country in the first week after approval, the White House said.

“We're completing the operational planning to ensure vaccinations for kids ages 5-11 are available, easy and convenient,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients on Wednesday.

“We're going to be ready, pending the FDA and CDC decision.”

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses spaced three weeks apart and a two-week wait for full protection to kick in, meaning kids who get their first shot of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine within a couple weeks of the expected approval in early November will be fully vaccinated by Christmas.

The Biden administration notes the nationwide campaign to extend the protection of vaccination to the school-going cohort will not look like the start of the country's vaccine rollout 10 months ago, when scarcity of doses and capacity issues meant a painstaking wait for many Americans.

The country now has ample supplies of the Pfizer shot to vaccinate the roughly 28 million kids who will soon be eligible, White House officials said, and have been working for months to ensure widespread availability of shots once approved.

More than 25,000 paediatricians and primary care providers have already signed on to administer COVID-19 vaccine shots to kids, the White House said, in addition to the tens of thousands of retail pharmacies that are already administering shots to adults. Hundreds of school- and community-based clinics will also be funded and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help speed putting shots into arms.

The White House is also preparing to mobilise a stepped-up campaign to educate parents and kids about the safety of the shots and the ease of getting them.

As has been the case for adult vaccinations, the administration believes trusted messengers — educators, doctors, and community leaders — will be vital to encouraging vaccinations.

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