AUSTIN -- Texas state health officials are preparing a roll-out plan for the COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, pending final federal emergency use authorization.
The vaccine — which is made by Pfizer and is similar to one approved for those 12 years old and older — is a two-dose regimen to be administered 21 days apart, said Saroj Rai, a senior scientific advisor to Texas DSHS during an Oct. 25 press conference. The vaccine is expected to receive EUA from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control Prevention during the fist half of next week.
If approved, Texas health officials said they expect to receive about 1.3 million doses which the state will distribute over three waves and all within nine days of authorization, officials said.
As of 2 p.m. on Oct. 25, 814 COVID-19 vaccine providers in 120 counties — or about half of the state’s 254 counties — were registered to receive doses. However, numbers are not yet finalized as providers still can register online, said Imelda Garcia, associate commissioner for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services.
She added that the data released only represents pre-order numbers funneled through the state and that additional doses will be provided to pharmacies through the Federal Pharmacy Retail Program or through the state over time. The state also is working with school districts and community organizers to set up clinics for greater access, she said.
“The vaccine rollout this go around, we really want to leverage every provider across the state that is eligible to receive the vaccine,” Garcia said. “This is not just relying on one particular set of providers but really leveraging every single office site that we can to make it easily available.”
Texas has about 2.9 million children between the ages of 5 and 11. Rai said trials have shown the vaccine to be 90% effective against COVID-19 in children.
She added that it is crucial for vaccine providers who would like to give doses to young children to receive the new allotment as the dosage for younger children is smaller than the dosage approved for people 12 years and older.
This next phase of distribution comes as cases in Texas continue to fall. As of Oct. 25, the DSHS reported about 4,078 hospitalizations; a seven-day average of 3,156 newly confirmed cases; and about 177 deaths per day over a seven-day average — a significant decrease since the state’s August peak, according to the state health officials.
“As always we need everybody’s assistance to help keep numbers moving in the right direction,” said DSHS director of Media Relations Chris Van Deusen. “The best way to do that is through continued vaccination.”