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Texas to receive 1.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for kids

State health officials shared details about the rollout Monday. They said 2.9 million Texas children are eligible for the COVID vaccine.

WACO, Texas — COVID-19 vaccines could be available for children ages 5 to 11 by the end of next week. The FDA is expected to make a final recommendation Tuesday, then the CDC is expected to give approval early next week.

Health officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services shared details about the rollout Monday. They said 2.9 million Texas children are eligible to receive the vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine for adults is known for its purple cap. Young children will receive a much lower dose, so those vials will have an orange cap.

Providers have already began to pre-order vaccines for children from the federal government.

"The total amount of pediatric vaccine allocated to texas is approximately 1.3 million doses," Imelda Garcia said, MPH, Associate Commissioner for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services and Chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. 

Once the FDA and CDC give the okay, those doses will be shipped out in three waves, then they'll eventually ship out even more.

"The overall vaccine effectiveness for this population of 5 to 11 years of age is about 90%," Dr. Saroj Rai said, DSHS senior scientific advisor and resident vaccinologist. 

Health experts said these vaccines are safe and effective for children. The only side effects are minor including pain at the injection site, fatigue and headache. Local doctors encourage parents to get their kids vaccinated once they become available because they said the benefits by far outweigh the risks.

"What we saw in this last surge with the Delta variant is that as opposed to prior surges it was really predominantly the kids that were affected," Dr. Ben Wilson said, the associate chief medical officer at Waco Family Medicine.

Wilson said although hospitalization in kids has been low, it doubled with the Delta variant.

"Vaccinating kids is the last step in the puzzle to cocooning the adult population as well and protecting them from getting COVID and all the serious complications that can fall out from that," Wilson said. 

Garcia expects more vaccines to ship out over time. Health officials are also factoring in hesitancy among some parents.

"We should be set for at least a little while with that initial one million doses. And we'll add more doses that come along the way for additional providers that want to place orders but also increased demand as we go into the holiday season," Garcia said.

The first doses that come in will go to providers that have pre-registered like pediatricians, health departments and children's hospitals. The federal government will ship hundreds of thousands of vaccines to pharmacies separately.

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