The White House is preparing to take the next major step in the battle against COVID-19. Wednesday it rolled out a plan to quickly vaccinate kids between the ages of 5 and 11.
There are 28 million children in that age range and the White House announced it has procured enough vaccines for all of them.
Texas pediatrician Dr. Marcial Oquendo shared that he has been trying to educate families about the impact child vaccinations can have on their entire community. He says parents often ask if they really need to vaccinate their kids since they appear less at risk of severe illness.
“It's true, they are less at risk, but they are an important part of the cycle of the virus for it to continue with the community. As well as even if it's one in a million, if that one in a million, it's your child, then it's all the children in the world, you don't care. You care about your child who ends up in the hospital,” said Dr. Oquendo.
He says he currently has a patient in the hospital battling a complication from COVID seen in children called MIS-C. Those are the cases he wants to prevent.
Dr. Oquendo is part of the group of more than 25,000 pediatricians and health care providers the White House says will help distribute vaccines to kids 5 to 11 years old. The plan also states vaccines will be available at thousands of pharmacies and hundreds of local schools and community health clinics. Leaders are working to make them easily accessible at places families already know and trust.
The vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old is one-third the dosage of the adult vaccine and has a smaller needle.
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“We've also seen that kids have a very good response, even at a smaller dose, when there's no need to use a bigger dose for smaller kids,” said Dr. Oquendo.
He also says they've had success vaccinating kids 12 and older and he expects lessons learned over the past two years will help this process go more smoothly.
"Because we're already getting the vaccine, we already have a stock, we already have the equipment, we already have everything, we just need to get the new vials,” said Dr. Oquendo.
The White House also says they'll rely on community partners to hold forums and distribute educational materials to parents. Federal regulators must still give final approval. The FDA is set to meet on Oct. 26 and the CDC committee is set to convene on Nov. 2 or 3.
The White House says once the vaccine receives full approval, they hope providers can begin vaccinating kids ages 5 to 11 in the following days.