White House discusses plan to roll out COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11 year-olds

FDA and CDC must still give the green light for the lower dose Pfizer shot
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:37 PM CDT
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Kids 5 to 11 years old took part in a Pfizer vaccine trial.
Kids 5 to 11 years old took part in a Pfizer vaccine trial. (weau)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The White House says it wants to be ready operationally if approval is granted soon for a COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11.

The White House’s COVID-19 Response Team discussed the Biden administration’s plan to vaccinate just shy of 30 million children as quickly as possible if the FDA and CDC greenlight the shots for kids in that age group in coming days. The White House says it wants to be ready to roll out the shots that would be a smaller dose of the Pfizer vaccine which is already being used for kids 12 and up and by adults.

Jeff Zients is the White House’s COVID-19 Coordinator.

“We have supply for 28 million, that’s all kids ages 5 to 11 years old. There are many families that are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get vaccinated,” said Zients.

The White House plan involves the shots being available at pediatrician’s offices, local pharmacies, community centers, and schools.

Zients and other members of the COVID-19 Response Team held a briefing today and fielded questions from reporters. Zients and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy defended having a roll-out plan before the FDC and CDC give the green light.

“You know all these conversations we’re having with community organizations, the logistics that have to be set up with doctors’ offices and pharmacies, it takes time and that’s one of the reasons why this planning has to start so early, it can’t wait until a final decision is rendered, although that final decision is clearly up to the FDA and the CDC,” said Murthy.

And Zients said, “Cleary, we’ve emphasized from the get-go that this will be driven by the science and the medicine and that’s the expertise and the decision-making authority of the FDA and the CDC. That is a different process, and we will await their decision; then getting ready, getting prepared operationally, governors working with their teams to make sure that they have the right set of pediatricians and family doctors lined up to receive the vaccine.”

Murthy and Zients were also asked about how the administration will combat politics as it seeks to have millions of younger kids evacuated. “This is about public health, it’s not about politics, and for many, many years we have used vaccines as a very powerful tool to save lives, to keep our children healthy,” said Murthy.

The FDA’s independent advisory committee meets on October 26 and the same type of panel for the CDC meets on November 2 and 3 on authorizing vaccines for 5 to 11-year-olds. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart, so if approved for younger kids, some children could be fully vaccinated by Christmas.


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