DALLAS — The White House says shots could be going in children’s arms within days or maybe even hours of the CDC authorizing the use of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine on 5 to 11-year-olds.
On Wednesday, the Biden Administration unveiled the logistics behind vaccinating the 28 million children who could become eligible in early November.
The FDA meets to discuss vaccinating kids under 12 on Oct. 26. Then, a CDC panel meets Nov. 2 and 3. A final recommendation from the CDC is expected soon after.
The administration isn’t jumping the gun by laying out logistics before approval, said Dr. Bechara Choucair, White House vaccination coordinator.
“We have to be able to be operationally ready to vaccinate them once the CDC and the FDA make that determination,” he said.
Choucair said science and logistics are two different processes, and the distribution plan has to be in place to avoid a lag in availability.
The plan is to immediately make the vaccine available in more than 25,000 pediatrician and doctor’s offices, more than 100 children’s hospitals, tens of thousands of pharmacies, and at school and community-based clinics across the country.
Dr. Jason Terk, a Keller pediatrician in the Cook Children's system and chair of the Texas Public Health Coalition, is among those already administering COVID vaccines to teenage patients.
He believes Texas families will be most comfortable getting their children vaccinated by a doctor they already know and trust.
“We are the most appropriate place for families to get the vaccination,” Terk said.
Terk encouraged Texas pediatricians who have not applied to the state to become vaccine providers to change their minds.
“This is a vaccine you can now get in quantities that are rather manageable and it’s going to last a long time in your refrigerator before it expires,” Terk said.
“I think a lot of those hurdles are no longer there, so hopefully most of my pediatrician colleagues will be providing the vaccine to the patients eligible to get it.”
If your child’s pediatrician doesn’t offer the COVID vaccine, Terk suggests regional children’s hospitals could be a family’s next option.
Cook Children’s, based in Fort Worth, confirmed on Wednesday that it will be offering mass vaccination clinics for children over the age of 5.
The vaccine for children under 12 is a lower dose than the vaccines administered to teens and adults.
The vials containing the doses will be smaller and will ship with needles that are smaller than those used on adults.
The White House said doses can be stored up to ten weeks with normal refrigeration and up to six months in ultra-cold storage facilities.
It remains unclear how quickly Texas families might take advantage of the opportunity to vaccinate young kids once the shots are available.
“It’s absolutely a normal response for parents to have concerns and to have questions and to really want to make sure that they are making the absolute best decision for their children,” said Dr. Lauren Gambill, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School.
“We have the evidence. We have the science to know that this vaccine is safe. We know that it has saved lives and it will continue to save lives,” she added.
Terk said parents who aren’t vaccinated themselves will likely not get their kids vaccinated, either.
“We’re sometimes more afraid of acts of commission that will lead to harm versus acts of omission that lead to harm,” he said. “In this case, not getting vaccinated and leaving your child vulnerable to infection is much more risky and much more dangerous.”