PENNSYLVANIA — Officials in Pennsylvania and around the nation are making preparations to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to children, once final approval is granted at the federal level.
A week ago, Pfizer formally submitted their request to the FDA for emergency use authorization for the vaccine in children ages 5 to 11. The FDA is scheduled to discuss Pfizer’s data at a meeting on Oct. 26, and a shot for kids could be approved as soon as Halloween or early November.
White House officials told governors from around the nation to prepare for an early November date, according to multiple media sources, including ABC News. Officials are working on which states will receive the first doses, but there reportedly are enough doses to vaccinate all 28 million children in the age 5 to 11 category.
In Pennsylvania, school districts have been told to contact vaccine providers and to schedule vaccine clinics on-site. Vaccine providers have been ordered by the Department of Health to cooperate.
“It’s very encouraging that more than half-a-million school-aged kids are already
vaccinated,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said recently. “We know that vaccinations are one of the best ways to prevent illness due to COVID-19 and help keep students learning in-person. That’s why we encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated and we encourage
schools to help make it as convenient as possible.”
If vaccine providers are not able to host a vaccine clinic at the school, the provider is responsible for getting that school to contact the Department of Health to coordinate an alternative.
“It’s not too early to schedule a vaccine clinic in November in anticipation of federal approval for kids between 5 and 11,” Beam added.
Currently, the vaccine is only approved for children 12 and older.
Children do not usually get as sick, as often, as adults who catch the coronavirus, but hundreds of children have died from COVID-19, and thousands have been hospitalized.
Across Pennsylvania, the delta variant has caused pediatric emergency rooms to see significant uptick of children with COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.
Pfizer said the safety profile of the vaccine, which it administered to children at a lower dose than adults, was comparable to the adult version. Potential side effects include soreness at the injection site, fatigue, fever, chills and headache.
Allergic reactions are very rare, and easily treatable if they do occur.
Like its adult data, the full data from Pfizer’s clinical trial for children will be available for peer review, the company said.
The company expects to release data and seek emergency use authorization for children as young as 6 months old later this year, according to a news release.
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still only approved for adults.
— Pfizer Inc. (@pfizer) October 7, 2021