Pharmacies Should Be Less Slammed with Children’s COVID-19 Vaccines

Every time a COVID-19 vaccine or variation of one is authorized, pharmacists brace for an onslaught of vaccine seekers. Find out why the situation might not be as acute if a vaccine is approved for younger children, however. Packaging of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine even has been changed to make it easier for pediatrician offices to handle.

WASHINGTON, DC – Since the early days of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine rollout – and certainly since the closure of most mass vaccination sites – pharmacies have been the primary providers of the initial series of shots and boosters for adults and adolescents. That might be a bit different if vaccines are approved for younger children.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients discussed at a briefing how government officials are planning to vaccinate children ages 5 through 11 once they are eligible.

“We expect the FDA and CDC’s decision on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 in the next couple of weeks, Zients said. “We know millions of parents have been waiting for COVID-19 vaccine for kids in this age group, and should the FDA and CDC authorize the vaccine, we will be ready to get shots in arms.”

Pfizer/BioNTech is seeking emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of a 10-µg dose level of BNT162b2 for use in individuals 5 to 12 as a two-dose primary series given 3 weeks apart. “The 10-µg dose level was selected as optimal dose for the 5 to <12 years of age group based on the favorable reactogenicity profile and robust immunogenicity results from Phase 1 dose level finding

Evaluation,” the companies state in documents provided to an FDA committee.

Action is expected over the next week or so.

“Kids have different needs than adults, and our operational planning is geared to meet those specific needs, including by offering vaccinations in settings that parents and kids are familiar with and trust,” Zients said. “At the same time, we’re incorporating best practices and applying lessons we have learned across the past nine months.

Specifically, he said the COVID-19 task force has been working for weeks with governors, pediatricians, pharmacies, community health centers, rural health centers, and other vaccine providers to prepare for the roll-out of the vaccine to younger children. The goal, according to Zients, is to make vaccines “available, easy, and convenient” for children.

The Biden Administration said it has secured vaccine supply to vaccinate every child ages 5 through 11 and will begin shipping millions of doses out as soon as authorization is granted by the FDA and recommendations are made by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Zients also said the U.S. government worked with Pfizer “to modify the packaging of the pediatric doses to make it easier for pediatricians, family doctors, and other providers to provide vaccines to children. And these vaccine doses will be shipped with all the supplies needed to vaccinate kids, including smaller needles.”

He points out that “parents rely on a range of healthcare providers to meet their children’s needs, including pediatricians, family doctors, children’s hospitals, pharmacies, and community and rural health centers.”

The press briefing discussed efforts to make sure “parents will be able to get their kids ages 5 through 11 vaccinated with these trusted providers. We’ve already enrolled more than 25,000 pediatricians, family doctors, and other primary care providers to administer vaccines. And we’re working with states and localities to enroll more.”

At the same time, he said, as part of the Federal Pharmacy program, tens of thousands of local pharmacies across the country will offer vaccinations for younger children, as will hundreds of community health centers and rural health centers.

“We’re also collaborating with the Children’s Hospital Association to work with more than 100 children’s hospitals across the country to stand up vaccination sites in their communities,” Zients said. “Children’s hospitals will partner with local community and faith-based organizations to host vaccination events, including in the evenings and on weekends, so parents can get their kids vaccinated at hours that work for them.”

One initiative to improve convention is arranging for vaccination clinics in schools by “matching pharmacies and other vaccine providers with school districts to set up on-site clinics.”

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