When a COVID-19 vaccine is available for kids ages 5-11, federal officials will immediately ship it to children’s hospitals, pediatricians, and pharmacies across the country so that providers can quickly administer it, the White House said Wednesday.
The Biden administration detailed its plans for the next phase of a massive national immunization effort as federal agencies prepare to consider granting emergency use authorization to provide the Pfizer-BioNTech to younger children this month.
That plan includes smaller doses, more flexible supplies, and efforts to provide children’s vaccines at locations families trust: schools, pediatrician’s offices, and community health providers.
“Kids have different needs from adults, and our operational plan is designed to meet those needs,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said at a news conference.
Federal officials have worked with Pfizer to modify packaging that will allow smaller numbers of the doses to be used at once, allowing for smaller-scale distribution efforts without the risk of discarded doses, Zients said.
Those smaller packages of kid-sized doses will be shipped with all supplies needed, including smaller needles, to thousands of providers around the country as soon as the Centers for Disease Control gives final approval, which is expected at a Nov. 2-3 meeting.
That green light will open up eligibility to about 28 million children who were previously too young to be vaccinated.
While children are at lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19, they have seen an increase in cases because of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus, said Anthony Fauci, the nation’s chief epidemiologist, at the Wednesday briefing.
In addition, raising the vaccination rates in the population as a whole could help lower the risk of spreading the virus to more vulnerable people, he said.
“If we could get a majority of those children vaccinated, I think that would play a major role in diminishing the spread of infection within a community,” Fauci said.