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Pending approval from the CDC’s advisory committee, the COVID-19 vaccination program for children ages 5-11 is expected to kick off this week and will be running at full capacity by next week, White House officials said on Monday.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will convene Tuesday to vote, just days after the FDA gave the green light for Pfizer’s 10-microgram shot for children.
“This is an important step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus,” Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, said during a Monday briefing. “As we await the CDC decision, we are not waiting on the operations and logistics. In fact, we’ve been preparing for weeks.”
Zients said federal vaccine distributers began packing and shipping 15 million doses within minutes of FDA’s decision last week. More doses are shipped each day, he said, and there is more than enough for the 28 million children who will be eligible should the CDC sign off.
More than 20,000 pediatricians, family doctors, and pharmacies are prepared to administer vaccines, he said. Once the CDC votes, parents and guardians can visit vaccines.org to find sites nearby.
“Bottom line, we’ve been planning and preparing for this moment,” Zients said. “Since FDA’s authorization last Friday, there hasn’t been a moment that teams have not been packing and shipping vaccines.”
Though vaccines will be available immediately, the program will likely not be completely up and running until the week of Nov. 8.
As children inch closer to eligibility, adults are continuing to get vaccinated, as well as getting additional protection from booster shots. As of Monday, 80% of adults have at least their first shot and 70% of adults are fully vaccinated. Over the last 2 days, 2 million people have gotten boosters. An estimated 20 million Americans will have gotten an additional shot by the end of day Monday
The news comes as COVID-19 cases continue to drop. At the end of last week, for instance, the average number of daily cases was 69,000, representing a decrease of 3%. The average number of daily hospitalizations were 5,100, down 10%, according to officials.
Source: The White House: “Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public
Health Officials,” Nov. 1, 2021.
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