(WXYZ) — The White House outlined its plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11. However, the FDA has not granted Pfizer’s vaccine Emergency Use Authorization for this age group. Its advisory panel will be meeting later this month to review the data.
I can understand why people might think the White House is placing undue pressure on the FDA. I can tell you that this is not true. Distribution is a completely separate process. And being prepared means that the vaccines are ready to go if emergency use is granted.
I’m not only a physician, I’m also a parent. And I know plenty of parents who are anxiously waiting for their children to get the shots. I have two sons in this age group and the sooner they’re vaccinated the better in my opinion. One reason is so they can return to the classroom and another is because holidays - like Thanksgiving and Christmas - are not that far off. And lots of families and friends will want to gather together.
If kids are unvaccinated, that means they have a higher risk of getting infected. And while they are less likely to die – just over 600 American kids have so far - they could easily spread the very contagious Delta variant to loved ones who are more vulnerable to severe disease.
What exactly is the White House’s rollout plan? They’re prepared to immediately ship 15 million doses around the US – that’s pending FDA approval. Shipments are going to clinics, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies. So far, 25,000 pediatric and primary care providers are signed up. While there may be vaccine clinics in schools, no mass vaccination sites are planned. What I really like about this plan, is the White House is preparing materials for parents that will give science-based information about the COVID vaccine.
Only certain people are authorized to get Pfizer’s booster shot. That includes folks aged 65 and up, adults with underlying health conditions, and those with jobs that put them at an increased risk of exposure to the virus. Moderna will also likely get FDA approval for booster shots for the same groups as Pfizer’s. That’s because the FDA’s advisory panel recently voted yes on the boosters and the FDA often agrees with their recommendation.
Why are we hearing that folks as young as 40 may need boosters? Well, it’s being reported that the FDA is seeing new data that indicates more vaccinated people are getting hospitalized. Having said that, nothing is official. Let’s remember that here in America, our data has shown that people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are 18 times more likely to get hospitalized. And 11 more times likely to die when compared against those who are vaccinated.
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