The White House announced Wednesday that children aged 5-11 years old will soon be able get a COVID-19 vaccine at their local pediatrician, pharmacy, and possibly even their school. It also detailed the plans for the anticipated authorization of the Pfizer shot to elementary school kids in just a few weeks.
Over the next two weeks, federal regulators will be meeting to discuss the safety and effectiveness in giving low-dose shots for the approximately 28 million children who fall within this age group.
After approval by the Food and Drug Administration and after a meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory board on Nov. 2 and 3, millions of doses will start going out to healthcare providers in the United States.
The vaccine will be available for use on a large scale within days.
Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 coordinator, stated that “we’re finishing the operational planning to make sure vaccinations for children ages 5-11 are easy and convenient.” “We will be available, pending the FDA or CDC decision.”
Pfizer vaccines require two doses, three weeks apart. There is a two week wait before full protection kicks in. This means that the first child in line will have their entire coverage by Christmas.
Some parents cannot wait.
Dr. Sterling Ransone stated that his office in rural Deltaville, Virginia is receiving calls asking for appointments for children. He said, “I want to get my shot now.”
Ransone, president of American Academy of Family Physicians, stated that “judging by the number of phone calls, I think it’s going to be slammed the first few weeks.”
Justin Shady is a Chicago film and TV writer. He said that his 6-year-old daughter Grey was nervous when he told Grey she would soon be getting her shots. He is trying to bribe her with a Disney World trip, but she’s not interested.
Shady stated that the family loves to travel and “we really just want back in the swing” of seeing the world.
For children under 5 years old, Moderna and Pfizer are currently studying vaccines for them. Results will be available later in the year.
Biden’s administration stated that expanding shots to children younger than 12 years old will not be reminiscent of the country’s initial vaccine rollout 10 month ago. This was when Americans had to wait in painstaking anticipation for limited doses and insufficient capacity.
Officials said that the country has enough Pfizer shots to provide vaccines to the children soon eligible. They have worked for months to make sure the shot is widely available. The White House stated that approximately 15 million doses of the vaccine will be sent to US providers within the first week following approval.
The White House reported that more than 25,000 primary care providers and pediatricians have signed up to give the vaccine to elementary school students. This is in addition to the thousands of drugstores who are already giving shots to adults.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will support hundreds of community- and school-based clinics to speed up the process.
The White House has also begun a campaign to educate parents about how easy it is to get shots. The administration is adamant that trusted messengers — doctors, educators, and community leaders — are crucial to encouraging vaccinations.
Dr. Lisa Reed is the medical director of family medicine at MAHEC in western North Carolina. This safety net provider serves rural Appalachia patients as well as more urban communities like Asheville. She said that it will take a lot of effort to get families on board.
Reed stated that she lives in a “community with a lot of vaccination hesitancy unfortunately.”
She said that some people are less well-educated in health or have a history of mistrust. She said that Asheville has a large population of educated adults who have been long-time vaccine skeptics.
The risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 is lower for children than it is for older people, but at least 637 people aged 18 and under have been killed by the virus in the U.S. according to the CDC. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that six million children in the United States have been infected. One million of these were infected since September, when the virus spread to the more contagious delta variant.
Officials believe that expanding the vaccination drive will not only reduce the number of children infected but also help to prevent the spread of the virus among vulnerable adults. It could help schools remain open, students get back to school and aid in the country’s recovery from the pandemic.
COVID has also caused disruptions in the lives of our children. It has made school more difficult, made it harder for them to visit friends and made it more difficult for them to play youth sports,” U.S. NBC’s Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General, stated this. “Getting our children vaccinated not only protects them but also gives us the opportunity to get all the activities back that are so vital for our children.”
Murthy stated that the government, which has imposed vaccine mandates on millions of adults, leaves it up to states and local officials to decide if schoolchildren should be vaccinated. He said that such measures are “a reasonable thing to think about.”
He said, “It’s also consistent what we’ve done to other childhood vaccines like measles mumps, and polio.”
According to officials, the U.S. purchased 65 million doses Pfizer’s pediatric shot. This is one-third of the dose that is given to adolescents and adults. They will be shipped in small packages of 100 doses each so that more people can deliver them. Also, they won’t need to be kept at extreme temperatures like the adult version.
Nearly 190 million Americans are fully vaccinated, representing 66% of all Americans 12 years and older.