White House outlines plan to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11

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Children ages 5 to 11 will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine at their doctor’s office, pharmacy and potentially even their school as soon as it is authorized by US drug regulators, the White House said Wednesday.

The Biden administration said it had obtained enough Pfizer shots to inoculate all 28 million children in that age range – as they outlined their plans to roll out the vaccine pending authorization.

Under the plan, the Pfizer vaccine would be distributed to children in smaller doses and with smaller needles, officials said.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to authorize the shots for elementary school children in a matter of weeks.

They are scheduled to meet to review Pfizer’s vaccine data for kids aged 5-11 on Oct. 26 and Nov. 1.

Officials said 15 million doses would be ready to ship to providers across the country within a week of formal approval.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses administered three weeks apart, which means the children first in line to get their shots could be fully vaccinated by Christmas.

A child receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine
A child receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

More than 25,000 pediatric offices and more than 100 children’s hospital and hospital systems across the country will provide the vaccines to younger children, the White House said.

Local pharmacies and school and community-based clinics will also be able to administer the shots.

“The start of a vaccination program for children ages 5-11 will depend on the independent FDA and CDC process and timeline, but our planning efforts mean that we will be ready to begin getting shots in arms in the days following a final CDC recommendation,” the White House said.

“These steps will be critical in ensuring that we are staying ahead of the virus by keeping kids and families safe, especially those at highest risk.”

Pfizer asked for emergency FDA approval for its COVID-19 vaccine for young children earlier this month, saying it was proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials with kids ages 5 to 11.

The Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for emergency use in those ages 12 to 15 and is fully approved for anyone over the age of 16.

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