Policy Considerations as Children Ages 5-11 Become Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine

A new KFF issue brief lays out key factors for the successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations for younger children, ages 5 to 11. This week, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) advisory committee will meet to vote on a request to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for younger children. A final FDA decision, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actions, will follow as soon as the first week in November.

As the Biden administration plans with states and local jurisdictions for rollout, among several issues to consider:

  • Access to vaccines for children will likely vary across the country reflecting state and local decisions related to the scale up and supply of vaccines. Meeting initial demand for the vaccine may be challenging as vaccine providers will need to wait to receive pediatric doses, which have different packaging and formulations than existing vaccines.
  • Pediatricians and children’s hospitals, in areas that have them, will likely play an expanded role in vaccinating younger children, while the role of schools as vaccine sites may vary based on state or local decisions. However, states will need to enroll additional providers and potentially reestablish or expand capacity of community vaccination sites to enhance accessibility for children.
  • Outreach and education through trusted messengers, including pediatricians, will be important for achieving high vaccination rates among children. It also will be key to prioritize equity in vaccination efforts to prevent against disparities in vaccination seen so far, as more than half of younger children are children of color and many live in low-income families.

Read the brief, Vaccinating Children Ages 5-11: Policy Considerations for COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout, for a full discussion of implementation issues. Also available is KFF’s latest installment of the THE CONVERSATION / LA CONVERSACIÓN campaign addressing questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and children, with FAQ videos featuring pediatricians presented with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.