White House releases plan to vaccinate 28M children

The White House detailed plans Wednesday to allow children between the ages of 5 and 11 to get COVID-19 vaccine shots as soon as next month, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The Biden administration has procured enough supply to vaccine 28 million children at doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, community health centers and other sites in schools and communities. In partnership with state and local officials, authorities said more than 25,000 pediatric offices and primary care sites across the country and over 100 children’s hospital systems nationwide will be equipped to administer vaccinations beginning next month.

Vaccinations for children aged five to 11 will also be available at tens of thousands of pharmacies and hundreds of schools “and other trusted community-based sites across the country,” according to the White House. Officials said they are also working with hundreds of community health centers and rural health clinics to allow them to vaccinate the children they serve.

The White House released its plans as the FDA and the CDC consider authorizing the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for children from 5 to 11 years old. An FDA advisory committee is set to consider the matter Oct. 26, while a CDC committee plans to review data in early November.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Pfizer, BioNTech ask FDA to authorize COVID-19 vaccine use in children aged 5-11

“The start of a vaccination program for children ages 5-11 will depend on the independent FDA and CDC process and timeline, but our planning efforts mean that we will be ready to begin getting shots in arms in the days following a final CDC recommendation,” White House officials said in a news release. “These steps will be critical in ensuring that we are staying ahead of the virus by keeping kids and families safe, especially those at highest risk.”

Earlier this month, Pfizer and BioNTech asked federal regulators to authorize emergency use of a smaller dose of their jointly-developed COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11. The companies submitted data to the FDA last month showing that a third of the vaccine dose meant for adults gave elementary-age children antibody levels comparable to those seen in 16- to 25-year-olds who got the vaccine.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Pfizer, BioNTech submit vaccine trial data for children ages 5 to 11 to FDA

About 66% of Americans, or 219.1 million people, have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as of Tuesday, CDC data shows. Just over 57% of the population, or 189.4 million people, have so far been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Since the start of the pandemic, 45.1 million COVID-19 cases have been reported across the U.S., resulting in over 728,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, officials have reported 241.6 million cases, resulting in nearly 5 million deaths, according to the university.