White House releases details on its plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to kids aged 5 to 11

Kids COVID-19 vaccines
Posted at 8:23 AM, Oct 20, 2021

On Wednesday, the Biden Administration released more details about its plan to distribute vaccines to children aged between 5 and 11 upon their approval for emergency use.

The Biden administration says it has enough doses on hand to vaccinate the 23 million children aged between 5 and 11 in the U.S.

According to White House COVID-19 response team coordinator Jeff Zients, upon emergency use approval, the U.S. government will ship 15 million vaccine doses to clinics around the country for immediate distribution. He added that "millions" more would be sent each week, depending on supply needs.

Unlike the initial vaccine rollout in the spring, the White House says it will not employ mass vaccination sites. Instead, officials will work with health networks across the country to get doses into doctor's offices, rural health clinics and children's hospitals.

According to the White House, 25,000 pediatric and primary care providers have already confirmed they will provide vaccinations, as well as "tens of thousands" of pharmacies, children's hospitals and community health centers.

Zients added that the White House would even be working with state education boards in the hopes of setting up vaccine clinics in schools.

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy added Wednesday that the White House has already begun working on materials for doctors and school officials to "equip parents with science-based information."

According to the White House, Pfizer manufactured the doses with a new formula made specifically for the age group. The doses will arrive at clinics and doctor's offices in small packages and be administered to kids with smaller needles.

Details about the White House's plans were released just weeks after Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve a smaller dose of its COVID-19 vaccine for use in children between the ages of 5 and 11 for emergency use.

The FDA will meet to discuss the application on Oct. 26, after which it could issue a formal recommendation within days. That would clear the way for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue its own recommendation on Nov. 2 or 3.

Should each agency issue timely recommendations, younger children could start receiving doses by early to mid-November.

The White House's decision to announce the logistics behind vaccine distribution comes after the Biden Administration recommended booster shots for all Americans this summer, only to have the FDA and CDC last month recommend booster shots only to those most at risk for severe infection.

On Wednesday, Zients denied that the White House was trying to put its thumb on the scale and sway health agencies' recommendations, saying that the scientific process for approval and the logistical concerns behind distribution were completely separate processes.

"The best practice here is to plan ahead so we can hit the ground running," Zients said.

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA for everyone aged 16 and up. The shots are also available for adolescents between the age of 12 and 15 on an emergency use basis.