Biden details ambitious plan to vaccinate 5- to 11-year-olds quickly, equitably

There is enough vaccine for all of the country’s 28 million children in that age range, Biden administration says
By: | October 20, 2021
(AdobeStock)(AdobeStock)

Add the Biden Administration to the teachers, administrations, and parents who are expecting COVID vaccines to be available for children ages 5-11 shortly after Halloween.

The Biden administration on Wednesday laid out its plan to distribute vaccines “quickly, conveniently and equitably” following the FDA’s advisory committee meeting on Oct. 26 and the CDC’s meeting on Nov. 2-3, the administration says. “Our planning efforts mean that we will be ready to begin getting shots in arms in the days following a final CDC recommendation,” the administration says. “These steps will be critical in ensuring that we are staying ahead of the virus by keeping kids and families safe, especially those at highest risk.”

The administration is supporting states, tribal governments, and territories with American Rescue Plan funding but will rely heavily on these local officials to provide vaccination sites and recruit more pediatricians to administer vaccines.

Here are the three big steps in the administration’s vaccine rollout:

1. Securing supply: There is enough vaccine for all of the country’s 28 million 5- to 11-year-olds, the administration says. If authorized, the vaccine will be packaged in smaller configurations that will make it easier for physicians’ offices and community-based providers to administer the shots.

Pending FDA authorization, the upgraded packages will contain 10-dose vials in cartons of 10 vials each (100 doses total). The vaccine can be stored for up to 10 weeks at standard refrigeration temperatures and 6 months at ultracold temperatures. The vaccine will also come with smaller needles and other ancillary supplies need to treat younger kids.

2. Establishing vaccination sites in settings kids and parents know and trust: Vaccines will be available at doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, community health centers, and school- and community-based sites:

  • More than 25,000 pediatric and primary care provider sites will provide vaccinations. Doctors are some of the most trusted sources for families when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Over 100 children’s hospitals will administer vaccines after school, in the evenings, and on weekends. These hospitals will also work with community- and faith-based organizations to conduct outreach about vaccine safety and effectiveness.
  • Tens of thousands of pharmacies are planning family-friendly in-store clinics, offering appointments and launching text-messaging campaigns to connect with parents and families.
  • Hundreds of school- and community-based clinics will receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to procure equipment and supplies, store and administer the vaccine, provide transportation and translation services. School districts will also be matched with providers who can operate on-site vaccination clinics.
  • Community health centers and rural clinics provide primary health care to over 3 million 5- to 11-year-olds. Working with states, the Biden administration, the federal Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program and the Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Vaccine Program supply these clinics with sufficient supplies of vaccines and other resources.

3. Supporting education efforts to build public trust: The Department of Health and Human Services HHS will conduct a national education campaign to give parents and guardians accurate and culturally responsive information about the vaccine and the risks that COVID-19 poses to children. The campaign will rely heavily on “trusted messengers” such as schools, local health departments, faith leaders and community organizations to increase vaccine confidence and provide forums where parents can ask questions,

Millions of adolescents ages 12-17 have been safely vaccinated, and fully vaccinated individuals are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, the administration noted. And as of Wednesday, two in three eligible Americans—some 189 million people—were fully vaccinated.