White House: children’s vaccine program will be fully operational Nov. 8

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The Biden administration’s vaccination program for children ages 5 to 11 will be fully operational starting the week of Nov. 8, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Monday.

During a White House briefing, Zients said the administration has enough supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for all 28 million eligible children, and is in the process of sending an initial 15 million doses to thousands of sites across the country.

According to Zients, states are choosing where the administration will send vaccines every week, such as pediatricians’ offices and school-based clinics, and can change allocations based on demand. 

The federal government is also sending vaccines directly to pharmacies and community health centers. 

“This will give parents a broad range of options to get their kids vaccinated and ensure all children, including those without primary care doctors — those most at risk — have easy and convenient access to vaccines,” Zients said.

The Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the vaccine on Friday was the “trigger” to begin the packing and shipping process, Zients said, but it will take some time before vaccines reach the sites where they will be administered.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel will meet on Tuesday to decide how the vaccine should be used, including whether to limit the shots to vulnerable children only. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky could sign off on authorization the same day.

Zients said several million doses will start to arrive at doctors’ offices and pharmacies over the next few days, so some vaccinations will be able to start this week, but the program won’t be fully up and running until next week.

“We’ve been planning and preparing for this moment and are ready to execute, pending CDC’s decision. And starting the week of Nov. 8, our vaccination program for kids ages 5 through 11 will be running at full strength,” Zients said. 

According to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 27 percent of parents with children between the ages of 5 and 11 said they would get their kids vaccinated “right away.”

Tags coronavirus vaccine COVID-19 Jeff Zients Pfizer vaccine Rochelle Walensky
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