UNITED STATES (KBTV)- The CDC approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11. The shots now are available to millions of elementary-age children in what health officials hailed as a major breakthrough after more than 18 months of illness, hospitalizations, deaths and disrupted education.
With the federal government promising enough vaccine to protect the nation’s 28 million kids ages 5-11, pediatricians’ offices, pharmacies, hospitals, schools and health clinics were poised to begin the shots after the final OK late Tuesday.
“This is not going to be ‘The Hunger Games,’” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner, referring to the chaotic early national rollout of adult vaccines nearly a year ago. Chicago expected to have nearly enough vaccine in just the first week for nearly half of its 210,000 school-aged children, and many more doses later on.
Walgreens planned to start kids’ vaccinations at their pharmacies on Saturday and said parents could sign up starting Wednesday online or by calling 1-800-Walgreens. CVS was also accepting appointments online and by phone for vaccinations at select pharmacies starting Sunday.
School closures throughout the pandemic have disproportionately burdened children of color, widening academic gaps and worsening mental health, according to data presented Tuesday to CDC advisers. That data showed more than 2,000 COVID-related school closures in just the first two months of the current school year. Advocates say getting school-aged kids vaccinated will reduce those disruptions.
Associated Press contributed to this content.