Local health officials plan for pediatric COVID-19 vaccine rollout

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to start discussions surrounding an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in 5 to 11-year-olds toward the end of this month.

It’s welcome news as kids continue to make up a greater percentage of positive COVID cases in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Over 99% of Montgomery County’s eligible population has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. It’s a huge milestone, but it doesn’t include the county’s roughly 100,000 5 to 11-year-olds who haven’t had the chance to get the vaccine. As the potential for approval for that age group grows closer, local leaders cleared up some confusion surrounding this next phase of vaccine rollout in a briefing Tuesday.

One big note, the Pfizer dosage for kids and adults will be different and pharmacies, clinics, and doctors looking to vaccinate young kids will have to rely on a totally new supply of shots.

“The current adult dosing bottles and materials we have will be distinct from what we have for 5 to 11-year-olds. The doses we will have for young people will come in new bottles with new labeling,” explained Dr. Earl Stoddard, the county’s assistant chief administrative officer and former head of the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Dr. Stoddard says Montgomery County is planning for big demand when it comes to vaccinating the 5-11-year-old age group, and they’re ready to roll when the FDA gives the o-k.

“We’ll have [children’s] doses to us at that point, or before that point, they’ll just not be approved for us until the authorization comes,” said Dr. Stoddard.

He also says it’s imperative to get pediatricians on board to help with the rollout for younger children. So far, 70 percent of pediatric vaccine providers in Montgomery County have signed up to receive doses directly.

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