The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 14-0 to recommend the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 5- through 11-year-old children today. Once the approval process is complete, an estimated 330,000 children across Oregon will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
This afternoon, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) expects the CDC’s director to endorse ACIP’s decision. Then, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, composed of health experts in Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada, will meet this evening to consider the recommendation. If approved, Governor Brown’s office will announce the decision. As early as tomorrow, state health officials will issue standing orders that will allow providers to begin administering vaccinations to children 5 years and older as soon as supplies become available.
OHA is currently helping prepare provider sites around the state to begin administering the vaccine.
State health officials expressed their optimism about vaccinations for younger children. They also cautioned parents and caregivers to be patient as states await sufficient supplies of doses from the federal government in coming weeks.
“We are excited to be able to start immunizing school-age children against COVID-19, which should bring relief to many parents and guardians, and those who work in education and child care,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “We hope vaccinating kids will help our communities continue to build population immunity that will protect our children, help keep them in school and ultimately bring this pandemic to an end.”
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine for 5- through 11-year-olds on Oct. 26 after a Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee review that found it safe and effective for this age group.
The federal government has a standard allocation system across all states. Roughly 120,000 initial, pre-order doses are coming to Oregon and have been ordered by vaccination providers. With delivery anticipated this week through Nov. 8, the supply will go to approximately 350 provider sites across the state, guided by our goals to protect children and end health disparities among communities of color. Vaccines will also arrive in Oregon within days after the anticipated go-live for vaccinating children ages 5 through 11. Every county has sites receiving pre-order shipments, and every enrolled provider that filed a request for doses was offered vaccine.
In addition, 60,000 doses were offered to pharmacy chains by the federal government. Those were allocated via a federal process with orders going to 87 pharmacy sites in the state.
OHA estimates the 180,000 total Pfizer doses are likely a four- to six-week supply of vaccine. The state has been informed it will have access to tens of thousands of doses to order for shipment on Nov. 9, again on Nov. 18 and thereafter on a periodic basis.
“Once the COVID-19 pediatric vaccine gains final approval, it may take a few days before it will be widely available. We strongly recommend you contact your healthcare provider, community health center, clinic or local pharmacy before bringing your child in to be vaccinated,” said Director Allen. “OHA is also working with the Oregon Department of Education, local public health authorities, the health care industry, community-based organizations and additional vaccine providers to make doses readily available at public and private schools, child care facilities, community sites and other locations easily accessible to families and education providers. Your child should be able to be vaccinated within the next few weeks. It is extremely important that all eligible children have equitable access to the vaccine and we appreciate your patience as we go through this process.”