On October 26, a committee of vaccine advisers for the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) voted to recommend that the FDA grant an emergency use permit (EUA) for the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, It reported CNN.
DC Health says they are working with health care providers to ensure they are ready to vaccinate the 46,010 children ages 5 to 11 across the city.
But despite the fact that the rollout would essentially apply to students at the kindergarten level to 6th grade, the district does not plan to use elementary and middle schools as primary locations for vaccination clinics. Instead, DC Health says they will work together to continue working with health care providers to increase the number of access points throughout the community.
School officials in Maryland have offered to set up vaccination clinics. The Denver Post reported that Denver Public Schools plans to offer the vaccine to children ages 5 to 11 at the school in addition to 18 school-based clinics already in place to offer the vaccine to students ages 12 and older.
Focus on healthcare providers
However, DC Health said they are not currently planning to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to elementary school-aged children through schools. Instead, their focus will be on healthcare providers, which a representative characterized as “key to ensuring access to the vaccine”.
“Studies conducted nationally indicated that parents prefer their children to receive vaccinations in health settings,” DC Health said in a statement. “DC vaccination data strongly supports this preference and we will continue to work with healthcare providers to increase the number of access points throughout the community.”
The COVID vaccine is offered at more than 150 locations in the district, DC Health said.
“DC Health will continue to ensure community-wide access to include pop-up vaccination clinics when indicated,” the statement concluded.
On the question of whether COVID-19 vaccination could become mandatory for schooling in the future, DC Health would only say that it is not required to attend at the moment.
At the press conference on September 20, DC Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt asked about plans to vaccinate children. “We have learned that parents prefer to go to their family doctor or to their pediatrician for these services,” Nesbitt said.
“It was true for the 12- to 15-year-olds; we expect that to be true for 5- to 11-year-olds, and we expect that to be the case for 0-4-year-olds when it’s their turn,” she continued. “So we will continue to focus on engaging health care providers in the District of Columbia to be part of this outreach effort.”
At the same conference, Dr. Nesbitt that the effort for 5 to 11 year olds is really about parents and helping them have the confidence to vaccinate their children. She said the best strategy is to understand how the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks, and to help them understand that vaccination is the best protection against school infections and disorders.
Although the CDC and FDA provide EUA to children ages 5 to 11, district children are likely to still be at least two weeks away from receiving their first dose. The FDA will consider the committee’s recommendation over the next few days before making their decision.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet November 2 to 3 to discuss whether they should recommend children get the vaccine, taking into account the FDA’s recommendation. If CDC director Rochelle Walensky approves, vaccination could begin nationally as early as the following week, from November 8, CNN reported.
The recommended dose for children is one-third of that for adults -10 mcg for the adult dose of 30 mcg, said a Pfizer representative. It will be packed with 10 doses per. vial with a unique label and a different color cap. “The pediatric doses will be available in smaller packaging configurations to better suit the needs of pediatric clinics,” the representative said.
This means that new vaccines must be ordered before children start receiving the COVID vaccine. DC Health said they expect to be able to order vaccines for children when the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) approves the EUA and adds that the federal government has indicated that there will be adequate supply.
The Biden administration said on October 20 that, contrary to the initial rollout, there are expected to be more than enough supplies of the Pfizer vaccine for eligible children. The White House told the Associated Press that about 15 million doses could be sent to providers in the first week after it is approved by the CDC and the FDA.
Pfizer says clinical trials indicate the vaccine is 90 percent successful in preventing asymptomatic infection in children ages 5 to 11. On October 26, the Washington Post Vaccine Tracker reported that 73.7 percent of the district’s population has received at least one dose. of COVID-19. -19 vaccine, with 62.1 percent, or 431,798 individuals, fully vaccinated.
See COVID-19 data for the district by visiting coronavirus.dc.gov/data/vaccination
An earlier version of this story gave the approximate date of the start of vaccination of children 5 to 11 as November 10th. It has been updated to reflect that the expected start was for the following week, as opposed to one week after the CDC meeting. The Hill Rag apologizes for any confusion.