White House unveils ‘rapid’ immunization plan for children aged 5-11

Thomas Lo, 15, receives a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Northwell Health Children’s Cohen Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY, May 13, 2021.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

The White House on Wednesday outlined its plan to distribute doses of Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines to children ages 5-11, as soon as allowed by US regulators.

The Biden administration said it has purchased enough vaccine to vaccinate all 28 million children aged 5 to 11 in the United States and will distribute it in smaller doses and with smaller needles to make it easier for pediatricians and pharmacists to administer the vaccine to children.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to approve vaccinations within a few weeks. The FDA and CDC’s Vaccine Advisory Committees are holding key meetings to review Pfizer’s child data on October 26 and November 2, respectively, and agency leaders will be making decisions shortly thereafter.

“We know millions of parents who have been waiting for the Covid-19 vaccine for children in this age group, and must get FDA and CDC vaccine approval, we will be ready to shoot,” said Jeff Zientes, Coronavirus Coordinator at the White House. told reporters during a press briefing.

Parents say they are looking forward to getting their children vaccinated as the kids kicked off the new school year with a delta option that is still spreading across America. There have been around 131,000 new cases of Covid in children in the past week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, with more than 1.1 million reported cases in children in the past six weeks.

Pfizer has asked federal regulators to authorize a two-dose regimen of 10 micrograms – a third of the dose used for teens and adults.

Pfizer’s vaccine packaging will be modified to match a formula and dose designed specifically for children aged 5-11, administration officials said Wednesday. Pfizer will provide 10 vials of vaccine in cartons of 10 vials each, giving physicians and community health teams 100 total doses per pack.

Healthcare workers can store vaccines for up to 10 weeks under normal refrigeration or up to 6 months under ultracold temperatures, officials said.

“Children have different needs than adults, and our operational planning is focused on meeting those specific needs, including by offering vaccinations and conditions familiar to parents and children,” Zientes said.

Many children will also be able to get vaccinated at school, officials said. The administration will provide full funding through FEMA to states to open vaccination sites, purchase medical supplies, and provide transportation to community vaccination sites.

The selected schools will also be coordinated with vaccine providers who will open immunization clinics for their students, officials said. The White House also distributes vaccines to hundreds of local health centers and rural clinics to serve more than 3 million children receiving care from local health care providers.

Earlier this month, the White House asked governors to include pediatricians and other providers in vaccination programs so that they can start vaccinating as soon as US regulators approve doses for young children.

More than 25,000 pediatricians and tens of thousands of pharmacies across the country will provide vaccines for younger age groups. Biden administration officials also said the White House is working with the Children’s Hospital Association to establish vaccination sites in more than 100 children’s hospital systems by November.

The White House said the Department of Health and Human Services will conduct a public education campaign to provide parents and other caregivers with “culturally accurate and accurate information” about the vaccine and the risks that Covid poses to children.

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