The Delta variant of Covid-19, which is more transmissible and may cause more severe illness than previous strains, has ripped through parts of the country with low vaccination rates for months, though cases have decreased in recent weeks. President Joe Biden and health officials have repeatedly pleaded with unvaccinated Americans to get the shot so they can protect themselves and those around them, but many still refuse.
President Biden said last week the nation was “headed in the right direction” on Covid but that the country is now in a “very critical period” as he asked the 66 million Americans to get vaccinated. He touted progress in the pandemic response and cited lower daily case numbers and declining hospitalizations. Now, the Biden administration has secured enough vaccine supply to vaccinate the 28 million children ages 5 to 11 who would become eligible for vaccination as soon as the vaccine is authorized for that age group. The plan will help equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of community health centers, and rural health clinics as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies to administer the shots, according to the White House.
On Wednesday, the White House unveiled its plans to roll out the Covid-19 vaccines for children pending US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization. Vaccine advisers to the FDA are scheduled to meet next week to consider Pfizer’s request to authorize its vaccine to children ages 5 to 11. If authorized, this would be the first Covid-19 vaccine for younger children. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is currently approved for people age 16 and older and has emergency authorization for children ages 12 to 15.
The Biden administration is also launching a partnership with the Children’s Hospital Association “to work with over 100 children’s hospital systems across the country to set up vaccination sites in November and through the end of the calendar year,” the White House announced.
We expect the FDA and CDC’s decision on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5-11 in the next few weeks and have put together a plan to ensure that vaccines for this age group are available, easy & convenient, should the FDA & CDC authorize the vaccine. https://t.co/o4eX8N2F8e
— White House COVID-19 Response Team (@WHCOVIDResponse) October 20, 2021
The administration also plans to help make vaccination available at school and other “community-based sites” with help from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) will carry out a national public education campaign “to reach parents and guardians with accurate and culturally responsive information about the vaccine and the risks that COVID-19 poses to children.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky says that they will continue to recommend schools have mask mandates even after the FDA approves vaccinations for children:
"As we head into these winter months, we cannot be complacent." pic.twitter.com/jFd5heAkvg
— X Strategies LLC (@XStrategiesLLC) October 20, 2021