In a private phone call Tuesday, the White House urged governors to prepare to begin vaccinating elementary-age kids in early November.
Once federal regulators give the green light, the pediatric Pfizer vaccine will be distributed in 100-dose packs. The doses, which are about one-third of what is given to adults, will be sent to thousands of sites, including pediatricians, family doctors, hospitals, health clinics and pharmacies enrolled in a federal program that guarantees the shots are provided for free. Some states are planning to provide the vaccine through schools, as well.
“We’ve secured plenty of supply, and we’ll be putting in place an allocation ordering and distribution system similar to what we’ve used for the other vaccines,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said on the call.
The Biden administration has purchased 65 million Pfizer pediatric vaccine doses, according to an HHS official. That number is more than enough to vaccinate all 28 million 5-to-11-year-olds.
At least 31,000 providers have enrolled to administer free vaccines already, according to the HHS official, and that number is expected to increase as the HHS and CDC continue to work with the existing federal program that funds many other routine childhood vaccinations all over the country.
While the White House said shipments of the pediatric vaccine will begin as soon as the FDA gives the green light, shots wouldn’t happen until the CDC makes its recommendation on who should get the vaccine.
The CDC is drafting guidance on the practice of “test to stay” being used by schools in lieu of quarantines, according to the White House call. CDC director Rochelle Walensky said it’s possible that the guidance is released this week.
-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, Anne Flaherty, Cheyenne Haslett