The Biden administration has laid out plans to vaccinate the 28 million American children ages 5-11.
Official authorization for pediatric inoculation via the Pfizer shot may come from public health officials in early November. On Wednesday, the White House said it had a plan to ensure that jabs would be “quickly distributed and made conveniently and equitably available to families across the country.” They said they already have enough doses to make sure every child is covered.
White House officials added that they are conducting “operational readiness calls” with local jurisdictions.
According to The New York Times, the effort to reach children will look different than the initial drive to inoculate as many adults as possible. There will be no mass vaccination sites. Instead “pediatrician’s offices, children’s hospitals and pharmacies with in-store clinics will be the preferred options.” In a press release, the White House said more than 25,000 pediatricians offices, 100 hospital systems, and tens of thousands of pharmacies will participate.
Vaccinations will also be available at schools and other “community-based sites.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency will help fund that intiative.
Doses for children are smaller (the Pfizer dose was 30 mg for adults; it will likely by 10mg for children) so the needles and vials used to administer the vaccines will be smaller and easier to store.
The Times reports:
Taking cues from what worked when shots were opened to teenagers, whose vaccinations generally require parental consent, officials are also leaning heavily on local health experts, who they believe are more trusted in their communities and can help reach high-risk children. “Children’s hospitals and health systems will be a critical part of our efforts to advance equity and ensure access for our nation’s highest-risk kids, including those with obesity, diabetes, asthma or immunosuppression,” [a White House memo] said.
Pfizer said last month that a Phase 2/3 trial showed its Covid-19 vaccine was safe and generated a “robust” antibody response in children ages 5 to 11. The trial included 2,268 participants ages 5 to 11 and two doses of the vaccine administered 21 days apart.
Vaccine advisory panels to the FDA and CDC will consider pediatric authorization for the Pfizer jab on October 26th and November 2nd & 3rd, respectively.
The Times provides important context:
Hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 are uncommon in children, according to data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics, but experts point out that children are still susceptible to serious or long-haul versions of the illness.
“Of course, adults are going to have much more severe diseases, but that doesn’t mean that children are not affected as well,” said Dr. Flor Munoz-Rivas, an associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine. “Children are typically ones that are vectors of transmitting the virus,” she said, and preventing them from getting infected “could potentially also have some effect” in slowing the spread of the virus.