White House releases plans to vaccinate children age 5-11 when vaccine is approved
The White House has announced plans to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 5 years old, even before it's authorized by the FDA or the CDC for the age group.
CDC advisors are scheduled to meet Nov. 2 and 3; and if the vaccine gets formal approval, doses could begin shipping within hours. The shipments will also include needles for the pediatric population.
According to officials, the U.S. has purchased 65 million doses of the Pfizer pediatric shot. The shot is expected to be a third of the dosage used for adults and teens. The 65 million doses are expected to be enough to vaccinate the 28 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old.
Some parents like Dennis Yonkers, of Huntington Station, still are unsure. Yonkers already received the vaccine, but says he is not planning on having his 11-year-old son Caiden vaccinated.
“For now, it’s a no,” Yonkers says. “It’s a hard no.”
Pediatricians, however, say kids are an important group to protect.
“Because we’re back in school and they’re in activities there is some spread going around in those scenarios,” says Dr. Sara Siddiqui of NYU Langone Huntington Medical Group. “Within the school system we do have masking in place, which helps prevents some spread, but we can see that some children can spread it into their homes or into adults that may be immunocompromised.”
The White House COVID-19 response director said, "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."
The settings include pediatrician offices, hospitals, pharmacies and even possibly schools.
“Pending guidance from the state or county health officials, we would facilitate. We would probably have a third-party contractor administer the vaccines. Schools wouldn't do it themselves, we don't have the personnel. But in order to expedite this with the numbers that we're talking about and in Nassau County we have approximately 200,000 students. Not all in that age level, but quite a bit in that age level. So we would have to work with the county and the state to be a site for a vaccine distribution,” says Dr. Bob Dillon, Nassau BOCES superintendent.
Pharmacists say the plan seems to make sense from a trust standpoint.
“Families in these neighborhoods get used to their pharmacists,” says Thomas D’Angelo of Americare Pharmaceutical Services, and the the chairman of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York. “They trust the pharmacists; they trust the people giving the vaccine. They are more comfortable with it.”
The Biden administration is promoting employer vaccine mandates for adults, but is leaving the vaccine requirements for schools to local and state officials.