“We know access is going to be critical here,” Ms. Bernstein said, adding that the administration has been exploring ways in recent weeks to provide a “child-friendly experience that ensures we get shots with vendors. of confidence so that parents feel comfortable.
Other experts said on Wednesday that it made sense for officials to plan ahead.
“The reality is that they would be absolutely stupid not to have a well-detailed plan prepared,” said Dr. Howard Forman, professor of public health policy at Yale, adding that health officials in “clinical practices and schools and other settings where interacting children should think about it now.
The 5-11 age group is much larger than the 17 million 12-15 age group, which became eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in May. To ensure a sufficient supply, the administration purchased enough doses to vaccinate the younger age group, and officials said they intended to ship 15 million doses to states immediately.
The younger group will not be expected to line up at mass vaccination sites: “We don’t want lines of children,” said Bernstein, who stressed that children tend to be more sensitive patients. (Read: They’re crying.) Smaller venues, including pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals, and drugstores with in-store clinics, will be the preferred options.
The needles that deliver the vaccine and the vials that contain it will need to be smaller for easier storage. (The Pfizer dose for children aged 5 to 11 should be 10 micrograms, rather than the 30 microgram dose used for children 12 years of age and older.) Children’s vials can be stored for up to 10 weeks at standard refrigeration temperatures, and six months at cooler temperatures, according to guidelines government officials released Wednesday.
Building on what worked when vaccines were opened up to adolescents, whose vaccinations typically require parental consent, authorities also rely heavily on local health experts, who they say have more confidence. in their communities and can help reach children at high risk. “Children’s hospitals and health systems will be a critical part of our efforts to advance equity and ensure access to our country’s most at-risk children, including those suffering from obesity, diabetes, d ‘asthma or immunosuppression,’ the guide says.
If approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is accepted, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse “full state funding to support immunizations and awareness,” said Ms. Bernstein.