Nearly 1 million children aged 5-11 will receive their first COVID injections by the end of today: NPR

Elsa Estrada, 6, smiles at her mother before receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at a pediatric vaccine clinic for children at Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, California.

Jae C. Hong/AP

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Jae C. Hong/AP

Elsa Estrada, 6, smiles at her mother before receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at a pediatric vaccine clinic for children at Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, California.

Jae C. Hong/AP

Beloved hugs in hand, they lined up at schools, pop-up clinics and children’s hospitals to do something that little kids generally hate: given a chance. COVID Vaccinations for 5- to 11-Year-Olds started at the end of last week in all seriousness, increasing over the weekend and beginning this week.

By the end of the day, about 900,000 elementary school-age children will have received their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, a White House official shared with NPR ahead of an announcement to be made later today. expected.

That represents about 3% of children aged 5 to 11. About 700,000 more have appointments scheduled in the coming days at pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens.

“This does not include making appointments that are made, for example, in places such as pediatric practices, children’s hospitals and other locations,” the official said.

For the White House, this is an early and encouraging sign in the effort to vaccinate 5–11-year-olds, although it’s impossible to tell from these early numbers whether vaccinations will continue quickly or reach a plateau of hesitation, as happened with other age groups. Unlike previous expansions of vaccine availability, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for these younger children comes in a smaller dose with different packaging and smaller needles.

Vaccines for this age group could not be packaged and shipped until the Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use on Oct. 29, and it’s been a dash since then.

To quickly reach this new population, Minnesota has set up 1,100 vaccination sites, including one in the Mall of America that can vaccinate 1,500 children a day, according to the official. Children’s hospitals have hosted family-friendly events with pets, stuffed animals and adults in costume. New York City has more than 1,000 clinics planned in schools, with flexible hours.

Since it is a new program, comparisons are imperfect. One week after the approval of vaccines for 12- to 15-year-olds, so far a greater proportion of the eligible population had received their first dose than 5- to 11-year-olds. But adolescents received the same vaccine doses that were already widely available to adults in pharmacies and doctor’s offices across the country, so no lead time was needed.

AN recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 27% of parents planned to rush out and have their 5- to 11-year-olds vaccinated against COVID-19. A full 30% said they would definitely not vaccinate their children. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has raised the alarm about misinformation, begging parents to do their research using trusted sources and to speak to their children’s pediatricians if they have any questions.

Some parents have complained that they have trouble finding appointments. Yet social media was flooded this weekend with photos of masked children wearing brightly colored band-aids.

“And it will give peace of mind to millions of American parents,” President Biden said Tuesday night during a virtual political fundraiser, touting newly available vaccines for children.

First lady Jill Biden is expected to travel across the country in the coming weeks, visiting schools and calling on parents directly to protect their children through vaccination.

The secretaries of education and health and human services sent letters to school leaders earlier this week encouraging them to set up vaccine clinics on campuses, disseminate quality information about the vaccines to students’ families, and conduct question-and-answer sessions for students. parents with local pediatricians. The letter also indicated that there is money in the US bailout plan passed by Congress earlier this year to help fund these efforts.

If enough parents vaccinate their children, it can go a long way towards restoring normalcy in primary schools. Many have had to put students on “break” after close contact with an infected classmate, disrupting personal learning. Some school districts have even had to close for a week or more to break the chain of infection.

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