Friday is the state deadline for pediatricians and all other health care providers who care for children to pre-order the pediatric COVID vaccine. The state is encouraging pre-orders in anticipation of the Pfizer vaccine, which is likely to become available in the coming weeks for children ages 5 to 11.
“We are getting ready,” Marylou Sudders, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, said during a legislative hearing on Thursday.
Sudders said 289 health care providers have submitted orders so far, including health centers, mobile carriers, hospitals and pediatric practices. She said this group represents about 700 locations in Massachusetts.
The state expects the first vaccine orders to actually arrive on or before the day federal regulators give their official blessing. However, injections will only be allowed after both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) meet to review the data and make a final decision to approve the pediatric vaccine.
“Usually you don’t order the vaccine until the CDC weighs in,” said Lloyd Fisher, a pediatrician and president of the Massachusetts division of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “But I know there is so much interest in getting this vaccine out and administering as soon as possible that they allow this order to be made a little earlier.”
Throughout Massachusetts, there are about 515,000 children ages 5 to 11 who are first-time eligible for the vaccine. This age group receives a third of the dose that adolescents and adults receive. The pediatric shipments are supplied in boxes of 100 doses and each vial contains 10 doses. The minimum order is 300 doses. The vaccine can be stored for up to 10 weeks at standard refrigeration temperatures.
Sudders said she expects the pediatric vaccine to be approved sometime in the first week of November. Massachusetts’ initial dose allocation will be 360,000, with 180,000 going to retail suppliers and 180,000 to health care providers.
Sudders said her goal is to have 90% of pediatric doses sent to the state delivered within 30 days.