WASHINGTON (AP) — Children age 5 to 11 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 shot at their pediatrician’s office, local pharmacy and potentially even their school, the White House said Wednesday as it detailed plans for the expected authorization of the Pfizer shot for younger children in a matter of weeks.
Federal regulators will meet over the next two weeks to weigh the benefits of giving shots to kids, after lengthy studies meant to ensure the safety of the vaccines.
Within hours of formal approval, expected after the Food and Drug Administration signs off and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel meeting scheduled for Nov. 2-3, doses will begin shipping to providers across the country, along with smaller needles necessary for injecting young kids, and within days will be ready to go into the arms of kids on a wide scale.
About 15 million doses will be shipped to providers across the country in the first week after approval, the White House said.
“We’re completing the operational planning to ensure vaccinations for kids ages 5-11 are available, easy and convenient,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients on Wednesday. “We’re going to be ready, pending the FDA and CDC decision.”
The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses spaced three weeks apart and a two-week wait for full protection to kick in, meaning kids who get their first shot of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine within a couple weeks of the expected approval in early November will be fully vaccinated by Christmas.
The Biden administration notes the nationwide campaign to extend the protection of vaccination to the school-going cohort will not look like the start of the country’s vaccine rollout 10 months ago, when scarcity of doses and capacity issues meant a painstaking wait for many Americans. The country now has ample supplies of the Pfizer shot to vaccinate the roughly 28 million kids who will soon be eligible, White House officials said, and have been working for months to ensure widespread availability of shots once approved.