2 min read.Updated: 20 Oct 2021, 09:06 PM ISTSabrina Siddiqui, The Wall Street Journal
Officials say focusing on pediatricians and primary care offices will help build confidence among parents
The Biden administration plans to make Covid-19 vaccines available to children ages 5-11 at more than 25,000 pediatric offices and primary care sites and at pharmacies and schools, should it be approved by federal regulators.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration this month seeking emergency authorization of the vaccine. The Biden administration said it has procured enough doses to inoculate the nation’s children and will begin shipping them across the country if and when the vaccine is cleared for use.
White House officials said focusing on pediatricians and primary care offices will help build confidence among parents. The early vaccine rollout for adults was more focused on mass vaccination sites.
“Kids have different needs than adults and our operational planning is geared to meet those specific needs, including by offering vaccinations in settings that parents and kids are familiar with and trust," White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday.
A panel of outside experts at the FDA is scheduled to review the data Oct. 26. Although the agency doesn’t have to follow the group’s recommendation, it typically does. The CDC’s independent advisory committee will meet on Nov. 2-3 to consider the vaccine.
The White House said the administration has been coordinating with state and local leaders on plans to distribute the vaccines if approved. If authorized, young children would receive two injections of the vaccine, three weeks apart, just like adolescents and adults do but at a lower dosage.
Mr. Zients said the doses will be shipped with all the supplies necessary to administer the shots, including smaller needles. The vaccines will also be shipped in smaller packages containing about 100 doses each, the White House said, and can be stored for up to 10 weeks at standard refrigeration temperatures and for 6 months at ultracold temperatures.
In addition to pediatricians, primary care offices and pharmacies, the administration also plans to set up vaccination sites at hundreds of schools and community-based clinics with funding and support provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Young children are at lower risk of severe disease and hospitalization from Covid-19 than adults, according to health experts. But more children have been hospitalized compared with earlier in the pandemic due to the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
The administration is also planning a national public education campaign with schools, state and local health departments, faith leaders and community organizations to increase confidence in the vaccine. Some surveys show many parents of children in the 5-11 age group either plan to wait before vaccinating their children or have no plans to get their children the shot.
A poll published in September by the Kaiser Family Foundation found only 34% of parents of children ages 5 to 11 years were prepared to vaccinate their children as soon as the shot is available.