Maya Griesemer, 7, receives a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine from Seattle Public Schools’ school-day clinic at Bailey Gatzert Elementary in Seattle, Washington, U.S., November 8, 2021.
Matt Mills McKnight | Reuters
About 900,000 kids ages 5 to 11 have received their first dose of Pfizer‘s Covid-19 vaccine since U.S. regulators cleared the shots for the younger age group last week, the White House said Wednesday.
Roughly 700,000 more young children have appointments at local pharmacies to get their shots, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters.
“Families across the country are breathing giant sighs of relief,” he said during a White House briefing on the pandemic, adding the Biden administration will continue to work with states and health-care providers to provide more doses.
The Biden administration has said it’s procured enough vaccine to inoculate all 28 million 5- to 11-year-olds in the U.S. and will distribute it in smaller dosing and with smaller needles to make it easier for pediatricians and pharmacists to administer to kids.
Pfizer’s vaccine for kids is given in smaller doses, one-third of the dosage given to teens and adults. Vials of the vaccine come in different packaging – orange-capped and labeled vials as opposed to the purple vials for those 12 and older.
Children who begin their series of shots this week will be fully vaccinated by Christmas.
Kids are generally less likely than adults to suffer from severe cases of Covid, but a small portion of them do, federal regulators and health experts say. As of Nov. 4, more than 6.5 million children have tested positive for Covid since the onset of the pandemic; they make up between 1.7% to 4.2% of hospitalizations among states that report that data, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
At least 2,316 kids ages 5 to 11 have suffered from multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a rare but serious Covid-related complication, according to data shared by the CDC.
Fully vaccinating 1 million kids ages 5 to 11 would prevent 58,000 Covid infections, 241 hospitalizations, 77 intensive care unit stays and one death, according to a modeled scenario published by the Food and Drug Administration. Up to 106 kids would suffer from vaccine-induced myocarditis but most would recover, according to the agency.
The program for kids 5 to 11 is a new program with “new sites and specialized doses being shipped out to those sites,” Zients said Wednesday.
Across the country, 114 pediatric hospitals are now offering shots to young kids, with many hosting vaccination events to boost immunization, Zients said.
The Biden administration is also providing states with FEMA-supported mobile clinics, and some states are offering shots in the morning before parents usually head into work, he said.