COLORADO, USA — On Wednesday, the White House announced its plan to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11. Although the vaccine has not yet been approved, President Joe Biden said it will be up to local doctors, clinics and pharmacies to handle distribution to children.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said the state is planning for the authorization for younger populations, and will continue to collect pre-orders for vaccines from registered providers.
CDPHE said the state has already placed an initial pre-order for vaccines with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The state expects to get 171,000 pediatric doses by early November.
According to the announcement from the Biden administration, the use of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be authorized in the coming weeks.
According to CDPHE, following US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and CDC recommendations, parents and guardians will be able to access vaccines for their young children in many of the same places where vaccines are currently being administered.
These include doctor's offices, pharmacies, community vaccination events, local public health clinics, school health clinics and more.
Colorado is also planning with partners to offer several large and recurring vaccine clinics during the evening hours and on weekends, according to the health department.
At Denver West Pediatrics in Golden, Dr. James Campbell said phone lines have been busy with parents calling to ask how soon they can schedule a vaccine appointment for their child.
"Parents who are calling really want to book appointments, but we can't book them because we don’t know the date," he said.
"It's a strange time in our office," he said. "We think of it sort of like the eerie calm on the beach before the hurricane hits the land."
His office is getting ready for the influx. They already have a special freezer/fridge to store other pediatric vaccines, and those are currently stocked with the Pfizer vaccine approved for children ages 12 and older.
The Pfizer vaccine created for kids ages 5 to 11 is a smaller dose than the 12+ vaccine. CDPHE said the pediatric doses will be packaged differently and, at least initially, shipped separately for distribution.
"It will be a lower dose and it will also be a lower volume," Campbell said. "It will also be a different colored cap [on the vial]. There will be efforts to prevent an easy mistake, from mixing the 12 and above dose and 5 to 11 dose."
Campbell said he hears from three kinds of parents. Many are eager to get their kids vaccinated as soon as possible. Others do not plan to vaccinate their children, at least not now. And there's a third group, he said, that often comes with more questions and uncertainty.
"We've seen their child since the day they were born and we've done our best, at every point, to help them raise their kid and take care of their child," he said. "Then that’s a conversation based on trust, based on continuity of care."
"Some of those parents will ask, 'I'm not as interested in the science. I want to know what you did with your kid. If you, as a doctor, are recommending this for my kid, did you give it your kid?'"
"All of us here have given it to our own kid. My youngest was immunized on the day of her 12th birthday, in the morning," he said.
For the next couple of weeks, federal regulators will be analyzing how the vaccine will benefit children and if it is safe for them, based on studies conducted by Pfizer.
Pfizer applied to the FDA for approval for the emergency use of the vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11. Once the FDA approves the vaccine, the CDC will have the final say.
A CDC advisory panel has a meeting scheduled for November 2-3.
According to the White House statement, the administration has acquired enough vaccines to support vaccination for the country’s 28 million children ages 5 to 11 years old.
For now, the state reminds parents that children 12 and older are eligible for vaccination, and encourages all parents to get their eligible children vaccinated.
9NEWS reached out to several Denver-area pediatric healthcare systems Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Children's Hospital Colorado said the hospital is closely monitoring news of the upcoming emergency approval, and has rollout plans "underway" for that group. They hope to share more information soon.
A spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children said they are looking at all potential opportunities for vaccine clinics, and planning for pediatric vaccines will depend on government allotment of doses.
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