Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Here’s what you need to know about the White House plan to vaccinate children.

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced plans to vaccinate young children against COVID-19, which health officials say will help curb the pandemic, save lives and stabilize the U.S. economy.

“We are finalizing operational planning to make vaccinations for children ages 5-11 affordable, simple and convenient,” Jeff Zientes, White House COVID-19 coordinator, told a news conference Wednesday.

Here’s what you need to know about vaccinating young people:

When will the vaccine be available?

As early as next month.

Federal regulators are expected to determine the benefits of vaccinating young children later this month and issue an emergency approval for childhood vaccines within a few weeks. The doses, which will be about three times less than those of people 12 and older, will then be sent to pharmacies and healthcare providers. White House officials said many children could be fully vaccinated by Christmas.

How do we know it is safe for children?

Pfizer said it studied the COVID-19 vaccine in more than 2,000 young children and found that they developed antibody levels similar to those of adolescents and young adults. They also suffered from similar or less temporary side effects, including fever, pain, and pain in the arms near the injection sites.

Where can children get vaccinated?

Children will be able to get vaccinated in many places where adults live, including retail pharmacies. They can also get vaccinated by their pediatrician: More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary care providers have agreed to vaccinate children, according to the White House. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will also sponsor hundreds of local vaccination clinics to support operations and outreach.

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My children are under 5 years old. When can they be vaccinated?

It is unclear. Pfizer plans to finalize data collection on young children participating in clinical trials in the coming months, the company said.

“Pending safety and immunogenicity data and regulatory discussions, we will submit an Emergency Use Authorization as soon as possible,” Pfizer spokesman Keith Longley told the Los Angeles Times.

Why should children get vaccinated?

Health experts say the vaccine will protect children from getting COVID-19, developing serious side effects and spreading the virus.

The emergence of a more contagious delta variant this year has caused a spike in the incidence among children. Health experts said this has contributed to an increase in unnecessary hospitalizations and deaths among unvaccinated Americans. According to federal statistics, currently about 77% of the US population over the age of 12 is at least partially vaccinated and almost 67% are fully vaccinated.

Severe illness from COVID is uncommon in young children, although serious side effects can occur. More than 6 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since spring 2020, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Fewer than 400 children between the ages of 0 and 11 have died from COVID-19, according to federal statistics.

In some jurisdictions, they may not have a choice of vaccinations. California earlier this month became the first state to mandate all full-time students in public and private schools to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

More on the COVID-19 pandemic

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