Biden Admin Announces Plan to Distribute COVID Vax to Kids Age 5-11 as Soon As It’s Authorized
By Berkeley Lovelace Jr | CNBC.com
The White House on Wednesday outlined its plan to distribute doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccines to kids ages 5 to 11 as soon as it’s authorized by U.S. drug regulators.
The Biden administration said it’s procured enough vaccine to inoculate all 28 million 5- to 11-year-olds in the U.S., and will distribute it in smaller dosing and with smaller needles to make it easier for pediatricians and pharmacists to administer it to kids.
The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to authorize the shots within a few weeks. The FDA and CDC’s vaccine advisory committees are holding key meetings to review Pfizer’s data on kids Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, respectively, with decisions by agency leaders shortly thereafter.
“We know millions of parents who’ve been waiting for Covid-19 vaccine for kids in this age group and should be FDA and CDC authorized the vaccine, we will be ready to get shots in arms,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters during a press briefing.
Parents say they are anxious to get their children vaccinated as kids have started the new school year with the delta variant still spreading across America. Over the past week, there were about 131,000 new child Covid cases, with more than 1.1 million child cases added over the past six weeks, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Pfizer has asked the federal regulators to authorize a two-dose regimen of 10 micrograms — a third of the dosage used for teens and adults.
The packaging for Pfizer’s vaccine will be changed to accommodate the formula and dose created specifically for 5- to 11-year-olds, administration officials said Wednesday. Pfizer will provide 10-dose vaccine vials in cartons of 10 vials each, giving doctors’ offices and community health groups 100 total doses per package.
Health providers can store the vaccines for 10 weeks under normal refrigeration, or for 6 months in ultracold temperatures, officials said, adding that the vaccines will also contain smaller needles for children.
“Kids have different needs than adults, and our operational planning is geared to meet those specific needs, including by offering vaccinations and settings that parents and kids are familiar with,” Zients said.
Many kids will also be able to get vaccinated at school, officials said. The administration will issue full funding through FEMA for states to launch vaccination sites, purchase medical supplies and provide transportation to community vaccination sites.
Select schools will also be matched with vaccine providers that will set up immunization clinics for their students, officials said. The White House is also allocating vaccines for hundreds of local health centers and rural clinics to serve the more than 3 million children that receive health care from community medical providers.
Earlier this month, the White House asked governors to enroll pediatricians and other providers in vaccination programs so they can begin administering shots as soon as the doses are authorized by U.S. regulators for use in young kids.
More than 25,000 pediatricians’ offices and tens of thousands of pharmacies nationwide will provide vaccines for the rollout to younger age groups. Biden administration officials also said the White House was working with the Children’s Hospital Association to create vaccination sites at over 100 pediatric hospital systems by November.
The White House said the Department of Health and Human Services will conduct a public education campaign to reach parents and other caregivers with “accurate and culturally-responsive information” about the vaccine and the risks that Covid poses to children.