Vaccine Eligibility May Soon Include Younger Age Groups

One group of school-aged children may be able to get a COVID vaccination within the next couple of weeks, and an even younger cohort will likely be able to be immunized in the fall.

On Monday the Associated Press reported that the Food and Drug Administration would most likely approve Pfizer’s emergency use authorization request for the use of its vaccine for adolescents ages 12 through 15 within a week. The vaccine is already authorized for those 16 and older.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNN on Tuesday that the company expects to file for emergency use authorization for ages two through 11 in September, and that Phase 2 study data on the use of the vaccine for pregnant women will likely be released this summer.

This news comes in tandem with President Joe Biden’s Tuesday announcement that the vaccination effort would begin a shift from mass vaccination efforts to more tailored options in more neighborhoods.

Now that more children will soon be eligible for the vaccine, Biden said those efforts would be led by their pediatricians.

“I want American parents to know that if that announcement comes, we are ready to move immediately –immediately move to make about 20,000 pharmacy sites across the country ready to vaccinate those adolescents as soon as the FDA grants its OK,” Biden said.

“Now, most Americans have a vaccination site about as close as their house is near to a neighborhood school.  We’re also going to ship them to pediatricians during the following weeks.  So parents and their children can talk to their family doctor about it and get the shot from a provider they trust the most — easy, fast, and free.”

Biden also said that since this latest cohort is more likely to be traveling, going to camp, or even working this summer, they will be able to get their first dose at one location and their second at another if needed.

Biden also announced efforts to make finding a vaccination more convenient, too. Those searching for a vaccination site closest to them can go to Vaccine.gov, or can text their zip code to 438829 for a list of closest clinics.

“Now, I know some people find making an appointment in advance inconvenient.  So, starting this week, we are also going to direct all federal pharmacy partners to begin to provide walk-in hours,” he added. “You’ll soon be able to get vaccinated without an appointment at the vast majority of our 40,000 pharmacy locations across the country.”

Biden said efforts to get shots in arms would also include more rural clinics, incentives for businesses to offer paid time off to employees to go get vaccinated, and working with major businesses like grocery store chains to offer discounts to customers that come in to get vaccinated.

“We’re working with major sports leagues to launch special promotions for their fans — things like ticket giveaways, in-stadium vaccination programs, discounts on merchandise, and other creative ways to make it easier and more fun to get vaccinated,” Biden said.

In other news:

How can area businesses work to build an inclusive pipeline of talent in their own industries—and ultimately provide more access and opportunity for all? These topics and more will be discussed in the second installment of D CEO’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion quarterly series. The virtual event will be held from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on May 12. Tickets are $20, and you can register here.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is providing approximately $246 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits for the month of May as the state continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dallas County health officials reported 170 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, and five deaths. During the past 30 days, there were 1,065 COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and staff reported from 381 separate K-12 schools in Dallas County. Of the cases reported over the past month, 93 have been associated with youth sports.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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