Atlanta - White House officials have begun coordinating the rollout of the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, although federal regulators have not yet authorized the vaccine for children 5 to 11.
"To be crystal clear, the decision to authorize is with the FDA and CDC," Jeff Zients, coordinator of the White House COVID-19 Task Force says. "At the same time, we want to be ready."
White House officials say enough of the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine has been purchased to fully vaccinate 28 million younger children.
States have already lined up about 25,000 vaccine providers, including pediatricians and family medicine doctors.
Zients says the White House wants to be "operationally ready" to distribute the vaccine once a final decision is made.
"We'll ship about 15 million doses nationwide in the first few days, with millions more going out each and every week, to make sure we're matching the doses where they're needed most," he says.
Unlike the rollout last winter, which focused on mass vaccination sites, this time around pediatricians and primary care providers will be giving many of the shots.
Newnan Family Medicine's Dr. Cecil Bennett says pediatric and primary care practices will be able to start vaccinating younger children right away, as soon as the vaccine arrives
"Primary care physicians, there are about 300,000 of us across the United States, we give vaccines all the time," Bennett says. "Different vaccines, adult vaccines, pediatric vaccines. Probably the greatest group among us who give vaccines are pediatricians."
And, he says, parents trust their children's providers.
"I fully expect a very smooth rollout, as long as the main point of the sword will be primary care physicians and pediatricians giving vaccines to our children," Bennett says.
Children's hospitals, pharmacies schools, community health centers and rural clinics will also be vaccinating younger children, according to the plan.
A September Kaiser Family Foundation survey found parents are divided on vaccinating
younger kids, with a third saying they've get the shots as soon as their approved, and 24% say the will definitely not vaccinate their young child.
"I can see the hesitancy of a vaccine that is perceived as new," Bennett says. "But, I always tell my parents, look at the risk versus the benefit. The more people we can get vaccinated, the less places the virus can go."