Family members watch 12-year-old Jack Freelingos vaccinated against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from Pfizer after Georgia approved the vaccine for children over 12 years old at Dekalb Pediatric Center in Decatur, Georgia, USA, May 11, 2021 of the year.
Chris Aluka Berry | Reuters
California health officials said the state will have 4,000 sites on Wednesday ready to introduce 1.2 million Covid shots to children ages 5-11 once the vaccines are fully approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The announcement came just a day after the FDA’s advisory committee recommended vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech for this age group. More than 1.2 million doses of the vaccine will be ready for distribution within the first week after vaccinations are approved, state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Peng said at a Covid briefing.
“We have about 4,000 sites that are ready to administer, and over 1,000 vendors across the state are registered to vaccinate,” Ban said. “And more than 860,000 doses of the vaccine have already been ordered.”
More than 3.5 million children aged 5 to 11 live in California, Pen said, representing roughly 9% of the state’s population. Vaccine introduction for young children could begin as soon as CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walenski gives permission for vaccinations, which she is expected to do after the agency’s advisory group meeting on Tuesday.
The California Department of Public Health is already working with schools on vaccinations, State Agency of Health and Human Services secretary Dr Mark Gali said in a briefing. Gali said some schools in California are partnering with pharmacies and other health care providers to provide injections, adding that he expects more clinics in training centers in November.
“By the middle of next month, CDPH, working with many local health authorities and other partners, has planned multiple vaccination sites in schools,” Gali said.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the vaccine for all public elementary school students returning to full-time class on October 1 after the FDA issues full approval for each age group. This requirement was the first of its kind across the country. Pfizer is currently distributing its vaccine on an emergency basis. If it gets final regulatory approval before the end of the year, Newsom said it could go into effect for students over 12 as early as January 1.
Newsom’s plan will be implemented in two phases, starting with children ages 12 to 17 after the FDA has fully cleared vaccines for this age group. The order will then be extended to children ages 5-11, pending FDA approval. The FDA is expected to approve vaccinations for the younger age group as early as this week, with full approval taking several months longer. White House officials said the country has a stockpile of doses to immunize all 28 million children between the ages of 5 and 11.
If the agency does not approve vaccines for those over 12 by the end of the year, the start date of the mandate will be rescheduled from January to July, Gali said. The FDA fully approved the Pfizer vaccine for everyone ages 16 and older in August and authorized it for emergency use for teens 12 to 15 years old in May. Moderna and J&J vaccines are currently approved for use in adults only.