The Texas Department of State Health Services, or DSHS, has released details of how the state plans to roll out COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11.
Dr. Louis Appel is president-elect of the Texas Pediatric Society. He says children in Texas won’t be able to get the vaccine, which is a smaller dose than the Pfizer shot given to people 12 years old and up, until final FDA and CDC approval of the vaccine. That’s expected to come next week.
Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below to learn more about how the state plans to ensure that Texas children over age 5 can get the vaccine.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services provided details on how it plans to roll out pediatric COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to give full approval to the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, but that is soon to change. What timeline are you anticipating?
Dr. Louis Appel: What we understand is that the FDA advisory committee is meeting today, and will be making recommendations to the FDA about the 5-to-11-year-old age group for the Pfizer vaccine. After that is authorized, or after the FDA makes their determination, then the CDC meets on Nov. 2 and 3 to provide the formal guidance. And then after the CDC advisory group makes that recommendation to the CDC director, the CDC director provides the final recommendations. So it should be sometime after Nov. 3 that the vaccine becomes available.
But the state and the federal government are already collaborating to work on distribution of the vaccine so that when it is, the recommendations are available, the vaccine will have been distributed and be ready to go.
I understand that DSHS was able to preorder about 1.3 million doses, but there are almost 3 million kids between the ages of 5 and 11 in Texas. Are you concerned about that?
I’m not concerned about it at this point. That’s the initial order that will be available within a week or 10 days of approval, from what I understand, and that there will be opportunities for ongoing ordering. I don’t think there’s an anticipation of a real supply shortage for this age group because people will continue to be able to order additional doses after this first set of doses.
This is a Pfizer vaccine. How is this shot different from the Pfizer shots Texans ages 12 and above received? Is it still a two-dose procedure?
That’s correct. It’s still a two-dose vaccine series for the primary series. It is a lower dose than what’s given to 12 and up. It’s about one-third of the dose that the 12 [year] age group receives.
Have you been hearing from parents about whether or not to vaccinate their kids?
I think it’s similar to what we’ve heard from other age groups. I think they’re a set of folks that are very excited to get the vaccine for their children. And there are others that are wanting to have more information and wanting to see how it goes for the first folks that get it. But I do have a number of families that are very excited to be able to get the vaccine for their children because it is one of the pieces that’s been really missing from our toolkit for being able to protect folks from COVID.
I presume you recommend getting the vaccination?
I will recommend to my families what the FDA and CDC recommend. So I want hear what the details are in terms of their recommendation advice about receipt of it. But I anticipate from what I’ve seen and the fact that the results seem to show that this vaccine is over 90% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID illness, with a side effect profile that looks similar to what we’ve seen in other populations, basically being in some pain at the injection site right after and some fatigue and headache that’s been consistent with other age groups. Those are mild side effects to deal with relative to the risks of actually getting COVID.