900,000 children expected to get vaccine in first week: White House

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The White House said it expects more than 900,000 children aged 5 to 11 will receive their first shot within the first week the age group has become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said the administration estimates “conservatively” that the U.S. will surpass 900,000 children vaccinated by the end of Wednesday — about one week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds.

The vaccination program for the elementary school-aged children hit its “full strength” starting this week, with another 700,000 local pharmacy appointments scheduled for children. 

“Parents and families across the country are breathing giant sighs of relief,” Zients said.

“We are set up to continue to vaccinate more and more kids ages five to 11,” he added. “We’re off to a very strong start.”

Within the past week, Zients said the U.S. has reached about 300,000 first shots per day — the highest seven-day average in almost a month.

Among children, the administration expects the vaccination pace to increase as more doses are delivered and almost 20,000 pediatric-specific vaccine sites are set up following the CDC’s approval. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the Pfizer vaccine for a younger age group earlier this month, making the vaccine available to 28 million children and opening the possibility of getting many kids fully vaccinated by Christmas. 

But not all parents are enthusiastic about the vaccine for younger children.

Just 27 percent of parents with children aged 5 to 11 said they plan to vaccinate their kids right away, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study. Thirty percent said they definitely will not vaccinate their children, while 33 percent said they plan to wait and see. 

Still, the more than 2 million COVID-19 cases and 66 deaths among 5 to 11 year old Americans during the pandemic, as well as instances of multisystem inflammatory syndrome and long COVID-19, show the virus still poses a risk to children. 

“While children remain more resilient than adults to this virus, they still remain at risk and with the help of vaccines, we can prevent COVID-19 and many other diseases that were once fatal,” Walensky said during the briefing.

Tags Children vaccinations children vaccines Coronavirus COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccines Jeff Zients Pandemic Pfizer-Biontech vaccine Rochelle Walensky Vaccine

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