Government poised to distribute COVID-19 vaccine for children

Nov. 2, 2021

The White House is ramping up distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children, and it plans to be at full speed as soon as the week of November 8, assuming the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends use of the vaccine in this age group.

That was a primary message of the White House COVID-19 Response Team at a news briefing Monday.

“As we await the CDC decision, we are not waiting on the operations and logistics. In fact, we’ve been preparing for weeks,” Jeff Zients, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said at the news briefing. “Vaccines for kids ages 5 through 11 are specifically formulated for younger children, which means none of the vaccines already in the field can be used to vaccinate kids in this age group.”

Overall, the government has secured enough vaccine doses from Pfizer and BioNTech for 28 million children 5-11 years of age, he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children 5-11 years of age last week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will take up the issue at its meeting November 2. CDC action on the issue is required before healthcare providers can begin providing the vaccine to children.

The FDA’s authorization was also an operational milestone, allowing the government to start packing and shipping the vaccines, Zients explained. “On Friday, within minutes of FDA’s authorization, we began the process of moving 15 million doses from Pfizer’s freezers and facilities to distribution centers,” he said. “Since FDA’s authorization last Friday, there hasn’t been a moment that teams have not been picking, packing, and shipping vaccines. They have been working 24/7 and will continue to do so.”

Zients expects more than 20,000 pediatricians, family doctors, pharmacies, and other providers to be involved in immunizing children against COVID-19.

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