ROCHESTER, Minn. - One of the final hurdles of the pandemic is in sight - a COVID vaccine for children ages 5-11 has been submitted for approval to the FDA.
Pfizer and BioNTech are asking the FDA for emergency use approval of a low-dose vaccine and a response is expected in the next few weeks.
Olmsted County is preparing for the possible rollout; unlike the previous rounds of COVID vaccines this age group is 100% children and all are school-aged.
That means the Olmsted County Health Department along with partners like Mayo Clinic, OMC, and local pharmacies are working together to figure out the best game plan for a rollout.
Health director Graham Briggs explained, "You always have to consider younger children differently. It takes a different skill set to vaccinate a young child than it does an adult."
Briggs says there's a discussion about mini mass-vaccination clinics at elementary and middle schools that would be made possible with vaccine permission slips.
He added, "We're talking to schools about potentially putting vaccination clinics right within schools. We definitely want to be thinking about equity and access so that parents who may not have the time or resources to bring children to the doctor for a specific visit, we want to make sure the vaccine is easily accessible to them too."
With nearly 20,000 children in Olmsted County who would be eligible Briggs hopes parents will take this time to truly consider vaccinations.
"I think at this point it's prudent for parents to start thinking about, number one if they want to get their children vaccinated and how that potentially keeps both parents and children safe and decreases transmission at school and in the community," said Briggs. "Ultimately the fastest way for us to get out of this pandemic, keep kids in school, keep kids from dying is to get kids vaccinated."
Pfizer is also developing vaccines for babies and toddlers under the age of five. THey're not expected to be ready before next year.