With Smaller Doses and Needles, Biden Administration Lays Out Plan to Vaccinate Kids 5 to 11

The FDA and CDC are expected to approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in younger kids around early November

Female doctor giving covid-19 vaccine to a boy
A young girl getting vaccinated. Photo: Getty

With the FDA and CDC expected to approve Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for use in kids aged 5 to 11 in the next few weeks, the Biden administration has laid out their plan for getting this youngest age group inoculated.

The Biden administration said Wednesday that as soon as the vaccine is approved for use, they will make it available at more than 25,000 pediatrician offices and primary care facilities, more than 100 children's hospitals and at pharmacies and schools.

The White House said that they have purchased enough vaccine doses to inoculate the 28 million kids aged 5 to 11 years old in the U.S. The doses, though, will be smaller, as will the needles, to better suit the younger kids.

"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," White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday.

An external panel at the FDA will discuss the data from Pfizer's clinical trials for this age group on Oct. 26, and an independent advisory committee at the CDC will meet a week later, on Nov. 2 and 3. A final decision from the two federal health agencies will likely come in the following week.

Pfizer said that a smaller dose of their vaccine is "safe" and "well tolerated" in 5 to 11 year olds, and created a "robust" protective antibody response.

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Though children are at a lower risk of severe disease and hospitalization from COVID-19, they can still get sick and pass the virus on to others. More children have been hospitalized since the emergence of the delta variant, and currently, children are testing positive for COVID-19 at a disproportionately high rate. During the week of Oct. 14, those 18 and younger accounted for 25.5% of all cases in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, despite making up just 22.2% of the total population.

"Millions of adolescents ages 12-17 have been safely vaccinated, and we know vaccines work," the White House said. "Fully vaccinated individuals are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and have a high degree of protection, including against the Delta variant. The consequences of a pediatric COVID-19 case can be serious and potentially last months."

A September poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that just 34% of parents with kids aged 5 to 11 said they intended to vaccinate their kids as soon as the shot is available for use.

In a statement, Dr. Gerald Harmon, the president of the American Medical Association said that they "encourage all parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 once vaccines are authorized and recommended for use in this population."

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