WASHINGTON: More than 28 million American children in the 5-11 age group will be administered the coronavirus vaccine, with the roll out starting within days, the White House announced on Wednesday. To manage an “equitable launch,” States have been advised to request their pediatric doses in advance — even before formal approval by the CDC and FDA expected by early next week, The exercise will involve more than 25,000 pediatricians’ offices, hundreds of children’s hospitals, and thousands of pharmacies. The gigantic campaign will make the US one of the first countries to administer the vaccine to 5-11 age children even as many countries have approved it for children over 12. India, whose experts have recommended granting emergency use authorisation (EUA) to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for children aged 2 to 18, will be watching the US roll out and its logistics closely considering its demographic is five times larger with nearly 150 million children in the 5-11 age group. The White House is pushing ahead with the rollout to states — with pre-order starting today — even though an expert group advising the FDA is scheduled to meet on October 26 to hear data about the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine and to decide whether to authorize its use for children. A vaccine advisory panel to the CDC is scheduled to meet November 2 to weigh recommendation for use. The administration is “eagerly awaiting” federal regulators’ review, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told journalists, adding there are “a lot of reasons to be hopeful” about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. The White House said it would launch a national public education campaign to “reach parents and guardians with accurate and culturally-responsive information about the vaccine and the risks that Covid-19 poses to children.” Pediatricians will now have to fit in the Covid-19 vaccine with several different vaccines administered to children, including shots for measles, mumps, chickenpox, and seasonal flu. Aside from the different storage requirement for Covid-19 shots, vaccinators will also have to be mindful of separating the adult vaccine for that for children, who will require a smaller dose. Federal health officials are said to be considering a new color-coded cap system for each formulation of the vaccine: Purple-capped vials for adult doses and orange-capped vials for kids aged 5-11. Although some experts have said there is no great urgency in administering Covid 19 vaccine to children pending scrutiny of more data, the US push for shots to children follows a summer surge of pediatric Covid infections as in-person school re-opened.
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