Michigan poised to vaccinate kids ages 5-11 as soon as Wednesday

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for kids ages 5 through 11 have already arrived in Michigan and providers are ready to start giving the shots as early as Wednesday. 

The federal Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the children's vaccine on Friday, but health care providers had been waiting for sign-off from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before administering the shots.

That came Tuesday night when U.S. health officials with the CDC gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot. Earlier Tuesday afternoon, a CDC advisory panel voted in favor of giving children in that age group Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 shots.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration pre-ordered about 287,700 doses to be ready for the eventual federal approvals, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Chelsea Wuth said the doses started to arrive on Monday. 

"We will be ready (Wednesday) to start vaccinating pending approval," Wuth said Tuesday ahead of the CDC's approval. "MDHHS is excited about potential authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11.

"We know COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and the way out of this pandemic."

Each dose contains about a third of the amount of vaccine used for adolescents and adults, according to the FDA. Children will need two shots to be fully vaccinated. 

The governmental approval was greeted with relief by some parents and trepidation by others. The vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in clinical trials. 

About 3,100 children participated in clinical trials that studied the vaccine's safety and efficacy in 5- through 11-year-olds, the FDA reported. No serious side effects have been detected so far in ongoing studies. 

Whitmer last week ordered the state departments of Health and Human Services and Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to "take all appropriate action" to make the vaccine available to kids as soon as they're eligible to receive it. 

The children's vaccine will be available at pharmacies, doctors' offices and local health departments, according to MDHHS.

"With over 4,000 providers in the state, there should be no problem finding a vaccine," Wuth said. "Our initial supply is expected to last through the end of the year, and we will be able to order more before then from CDC."

On Tuesday, Meijer grocery stores were already scheduling childvaccinations, and the Oakland County Health Division said it received 14,400 pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The county plans to hold its first pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinics next week, representatives said in a statement. The Health Division is slated to announce clinic locations and times later this week.

Oakland County has about 98,000 residents ages 5-11 years old, according to the release.

“We're excited having the vaccine available for children. It's a huge step in ending this pandemic and the best way to keep our kids healthy and in school,” said Oakland County Health Division Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust, a pediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon.  

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN