TOPEKA (KSNT) – Coronavirus shots for kids ages 5-11 are going out in Kansas.
Governor Laura Kelly announced Wednesday that the state has adopted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations for administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5-11 under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), making all Kansans 5 and older eligible for the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine.
“With this new development, the tools we need to keep kids safe and in school – and finally return to normal – are more accessible than ever. We’ve been preparing for this announcement for months – and we stand ready to distribute this vaccine quickly and efficiently to every Kansas community. The vaccine is safe, effective, and free – and I encourage all Kansas parents to get their kids aged 5 and older vaccinated as soon as possible.”Governor Laura Kelly, D-Kansas
Nearly 265,000 kids in the state ages five to 11 are now eligible to be vaccinated. The governor discussed the state’s vaccination plan for this age group during a Safer Classrooms Workgroup meeting Wednesday afternoon.
According to the governor, nearly 2,400 providers in the state stand ready to start giving out shots. According to the state’s health department, the state is expected to receive 127,900 child-size doses of the vaccine this week, which is the first wave of distribution. More shipments are expected each week.
All five to 11-year-old children can now receive their Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from a large network of vaccine providers across Kansas, including doctor’s offices, retail pharmacies, local health departments, and clinics. The shots for kids in this age group will use one-third of the dose used for adults.
“Over half of these vaccines will go directly to large health care providers and local public health departments, that have ordered the vaccine in packages of 300 doses,” Kelly said during the meeting. “The other half will be re-packaged in smaller amounts, so that pediatricians, family physicians, community health centers and other providers can immediately begin to vaccinate their pediatric patients.”
While pediatricians have noted a rise in children getting infected on the national level earlier this year, Kansas Education Commission Dr. Randy Watson, said the state’s been able to control most of the spread and keep kids in school, during the workgroup meeting Wednesday. Watson attributed it to prioritizing “vaccine, testing, and masking.”
“By doing that, we are experiencing this year, a very different environment than many other states where most of our students are able to go to school every day,” Watson said.
According to state health officials, a few more school districts have looked into implementing testing strategies to control spread. Some school districts, like Topeka Public Schools, have boasted an extensive amount of mitigation measures to keep kids safe and in the classroom. The district has also implemented vaccination clinics for teachers and students who choose to get vaccinated.
“To date, we have about 10 clinics that we set up that have given staff and students the opportunity to be able to be vaccinated if they so choose,” said Dr. Aarion Gray, a spokesperson for the district. “Those efforts have been put in place as an additional layer to make sure everyone is safe.”
The governor and health officials are encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated as an added safety measure to keep the virus from spreading.
“While we have seen lower rates of COVID infections in children as compared to adults, the Delta variant brought the levels of infections in kids to record highs. This important development will help keep children safe and stop the spread of COVID-19. These vaccines have been proven to prevent COVID-19 infection, severe illness, hospitalization, and death, and are important to get even if your child has already had COVID. But don’t just take my word for it – talk to your local doctor, get all the facts, and make the best choice to protect your family. Vaccination is the key to beating this pandemic.”Lee Norman, M.D., Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment
Children under the age of 5 are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC and FDA will continue to monitor the safety and efficacy data of vaccines and consider expanding eligibility for vaccines at appropriate doses for children under the age of 5, pending further review. Additionally, the FDA and CDC have not yet provided approval or guidance on Moderna’s vaccine for children aged five to 11.
For children that are eligible, the state recommends calling local providers to confirm availability.
For information on locations offering vaccines for children ages five to 11, click here.