White House Outlines COVID-19 Vaccination Plans for Kids 5-11

By Evie Blad — October 20, 2021 3 min read
Ticket number 937 sits on a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-thru vaccination site in the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Jan. 14, 2021, in Newnan, Ga.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

When a COVID-19 vaccine is available for children ages 5-11, federal officials will immediately ship it to children’s hospitals, pediatricians, and pharmacies across the country so that providers can quickly administer it, the White House said Wednesday.

The Biden administration detailed its plans for the next phase of a massive national immunization effort as federal agencies prepare to consider granting emergency use authorization to provide the Pfizer-BioNTech to younger children this month.

That plan includes smaller doses, more-flexible supplies, and efforts to provide children’s vaccines at locations families trust: schools, pediatrician’s offices, and community health providers.

“Kids have different needs from adults, and our operational plan is designed to meet those needs,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said at a news conference.

Federal officials have worked with Pfizer to modify packaging that will allow smaller numbers of the doses to be used at once, allowing for smaller-scale distribution efforts without the risk of discarded doses, Zients said.

Those smaller packages of kid-sized doses will be shipped with all supplies needed, including smaller needles, to thousands of providers around the country as soon as the Centers for Disease Control gives final approval, which is expected at a Nov. 2-3 meeting.

Shipping vaccines for 28 million children

That green light will open up eligibility to about 28 million children who were previously too young to be vaccinated.

While children are at lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19, they have seen an increase in cases because of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus, said Anthony Fauci, the nation’ chief epidemiologist, at the Wednesday briefing. In addition, raising the rates of vaccination in the population as a whole could help lower the risk of spreading the virus to more-vulnerable people, he said.

“If we could get a majority of those children vaccinated, I think that would play a major role in diminishing the spread of infection within a community,” Fauci said.

See Also

Student Well-Being Kids and COVID-19 Vaccines: The Latest News
April 13, 2021
29 min read

Schools will play a key role in the administration’s pediatric vaccine efforts. To combat vaccine misinformation, federal officials plan to provide letters that schools and clergy can distribute to parents, Zients said.

And agencies plan to coordinate an education campaign that includes media appearances, outreach efforts in multiple languages, and events with local health professionals to answer questions for families who may not have primary health-care providers.

Coordinating school-based vaccination efforts

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse states for school-based vaccination efforts, the White House plan said. And the administration will work to pair schools with local providers and pharmacies that can help provide on-site inoculations.

“As with vaccination for those 12 and older, the success of this program will rely heavily on states, Tribes, and territories to help implement a smooth rollout,” the White House plan says.

So the administration is holding “readiness calls” with states and territories in advance of the expected vaccine authorization to finalize plans.

In addition to school-based efforts, providers expected to administer vaccines include about 25,000 pediatricians and primary care providers, 100 children’s hospitals, and thousands of pharmacies, community health centers, and rural clinics.

Support for state and local vaccine requirements

While President Joe Biden has called for vaccine mandates for adult workers, the administration has not called for any federal requirements for pediatric vaccines.

Officials including Fauci and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, have said they support state and local plans to mandate vaccines for school attendance. California is the only state to have set such a requirement on a broad scale. Around the country, some districts have adopted or considered their own local requirements or set vaccine mandates for smaller populations, such as student athletes.

Even as shots become available for younger children, it remains important for unvaccinated adults to roll up their sleeves, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Wednesday.

“As we await this decision, the best thing we can do to protect our children is to get vaccinated ourselves and to wear a mask in public places,” he said.

Related Tags:


Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Student Achievement Webinar Examining the Evidence: What We’re Learning From the Field About Implementing High-Dosage Tutoring Programs
Tutoring programs have become a leading strategy to address COVID-19 learning loss. What evidence-based principles can district and school leaders draw on to design, implement, measure, and improve high-quality tutoring programs? And what are districts

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Schools Could Count Nonbinary Students Under Biden Proposal
The Civil Rights Data Collection for this school year could also revive questions about inexperienced teachers and preschool discipline.
6 min read
Image of a form with male and female checkboxes.
Federal 'Parents' Bill of Rights' Underscores Furor Over Curriculum and Transparency in Schools
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley's bill highlights how education issues like critical race theory will likely stay in the national political spotlight.
7 min read
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., says "it's time to give control back to parents, not woke bureaucrats."
Patrick Semansky/AP
Federal Opinion It’s Not Just the NSBA That’s Out of Touch. There’s a Bigger Problem
Those who influence educational policy or practice would do well to care about what parents and the public actually want.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Dept. of Ed., Florida Continue to Battle Over Ban on School Mask Mandates
Federal officials say they’ll intervene if the Florida Dept. of Ed. goes ahead with sanctions on districts with mask mandates.
Ana Ceballos, Miami Herald
2 min read
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran speaks alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, rear right, Fla. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., left, state legislators, parents and educators, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran speaks alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, rear right, Fla. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., left, state legislators, parents and educators, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP