In anticipation that federal health authorities will approve a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 in the coming weeks, the Biden administration announced Wednesday a plan to make free vaccinations available for the nation’s younger school-age children.

This planning “will be critical in ensuring that the nation stays ahead of the virus by keeping kids and families safe, especially those at highest risk,” the White House said in a statement. It noted that the administration has procured enough doses to support vaccination for the nation’s 28 million children ages 5 to 11.

In May, 17 million adolescents, ages 12 to 15, became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

If authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children 5- to 11-years old “will be a dose and formula specifically for this age group,” according to the statement.

The vaccine also will come with smaller needles and have packaging in smaller configurations that will make it easier for physicians’ offices and other smaller, community-based providers to offer the vaccine to children and their families.

The administration’s plan calls for thousands of “accessible and conveniently located” vaccination sites in settings that children and their parents are familiar and comfortable with, including school- and community-based health clinics, pediatricians’ offices and primary care sites, hospitals, and pharmacies.

In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services will conduct 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.

“The success of this program will rely heavily on states, Tribes, and territories to help implement a smooth rollout,” the White House statement says. “A major component of the administration’s operational planning is working closely with state and local leaders to ensure they are prepared to distribute and administer vaccines.”

The administration will host “operational readiness calls” with every jurisdiction, encouraging them to help increase pediatric providers’ enrollment and providing resources to support them as critical partners in the outreach and public education campaign.

“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, states will continue to receive unprecedented levels of federal support, including full reimbursement from the federal government for vaccination operations and outreach programs,” the statement says.

It noted that 2 in 3 eligible individuals—189 million Americans—are currently fully vaccinated. “Fully vaccinated individuals are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and have a high degree of protection, including against the Delta variant. The consequences of a pediatric COVID-19 case can be serious and potentially last months.”

Read more at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/10/20/fact-sheet-biden-administration-announces-update-on-operational-planning-for-covid-19-vaccinations-for-kids-ages-5-11/.

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2020 State of the Association

Full of challenge and change, 2020 was like no other year. NSBA's State of the Association provides a snapshot of the association's advocacy and member services work as well as our ongoing transformation.