The White House has begun telling governors to prepare to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11 against COVID-19 as the Food and Drug Administration considers approval of Pfizer’s vaccine for that age group, NBC News reports.
The Biden administration has already purchased more than 65 million pediatric doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, which is enough to fully vaccinate about 28 million if the FDA does approve the vaccine for children, according to an official from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Vaccinces for children are not interchangeable with those meant for adults, which require a different dosage and dilution.
The companies submitted an emergency request to the FDA for pediatric approval earlier this month, and an advisory committee for the agency is scheduled to discuss the issue at a meeting on Oct. 26.
"We've secured plenty of supply, and we'll be putting in place an allocation, ordering, and distribution system similar to what we've used for the other vaccines," White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said on a phone call to governors on Tuesday, according to audio obtained by ABC News.
"It's important that all of us recognize that parents have been waiting for a pediatric vaccine for a long time, so they will understandably be very eager to get their kids vaccinated right away," he added.
The HHS official also told NBC that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently working to sign up providers for the COVID-19 vaccination program, and HHS has plans for an outreach campaign that will encourage parents to vaccinate their children.
NBC notes that while 70% of adults have been at least partly vaccinated, only 62% of teenagers age 16 to 17 and just 55% of adolescents age 12 to 15 have received at least one dose.
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