On October 29th,2021, the Food and Drug Administration announced the lower dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 was authorized. Teams immediately began packing them up to be shipped. The process may take several weeks for shots to be available. The containers are packed with dry ice, syringes, and tracking labels. They are also put in shipping containers specially made for this pediatric vaccine.
A top White House official said that the parents should not expect to get the vaccine the same day it goes out because the medical centers will be organizing them. He also said that patience may be needed because it could take several days before the shots are available.
During an exclusive interview with NPR, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 coordinator, said that this vaccine is specialized for children. He also told NPR that they were planning the logistics for the vaccines to be available at tens of thousands of sites that parents and kids know and trust.
He ended the interview by explaining that this process is more complicated than when adult boosters were authorized. Since kids are so young, they will be getting a smaller dose delivered via smaller needles created especially for smaller arms. It’s also a different formulation and packaging, and this causes a new program that requires greater sensitivity. He also said that they urged parents to plan because the program should be fully up and running the week of November 8th.
Zients said that vaccines are being shipped to 20,000 locations over the U.S., and this process of packing and shipping them will take time. Pending on the CDC decision, parents should be able to start making appointments. Some of the locations where these vaccines would be available are Publix Super Markets, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy’s, Walmart, and more.
In the U.S. there are 28 million children between the ages of5 and 11. The White House is starting by 15 million vaccine doses, expecting more to come. Some parents will be racing to vaccinate their children, but others will question it or would not want to go first.
The FDA granted emergency use to the Pfizer vaccine for these ages based on a study of approximately 4,700 children. This vaccine was found safe and 90.7% effective at preventing symptomatic disease.