Texas will receive more than 1.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11

According to the state health agency, about 1 million doses of the vaccine will go straight to vaccine providers in Texas — including local health departments.

Pfizer’s pediatric COVID vaccine comes in a different formulation than the vaccine approved for adults, so it’s important for children to get the right shot. (Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT)

By Ashley Lopez, KUT

The Texas Department of State Health Services has instructed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “ship Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine to over 900 providers in 155 Texas counties over the next week” so the state can begin vaccinating children ages 5 to 11.

There are approximately 2.9 million Texas children in that age group.

According to the state health agency, about 1 million doses of the vaccine will go straight to vaccine providers in Texas — including local health departments — and about 350,000 doses will go straight to pharmacies that are already part of the federal pharmacy program.

“More than 400,000 doses of vaccine have already arrived with 162,000 expected to arrive today, and delivery of the full amount will continue through the next week,” the Department of State Health Services said in a press release Wednesday.

“Vaccinating children between the ages of 5 and 11 helps to protect all Texans from COVID-19,” Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner, said in a statement. “Twenty-two Texas children between the ages of 5 and 11 have died from complications of COVID-19 and 118 have been diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. The pediatric vaccine will further help reduce the spread of disease and prevent the rare but serious complications of COVID-19 in this age group.”

Travis County Judge Andy Brown said he was glad the CDC panel had officially recommended the Pfizer vaccine for children.

“As a parent, I’m excited that my children will hopefully soon be vaccinated,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

Brown said the county is working with local school districts “in a school-based approach that would supplement their efforts and provide support” wherever they need it.

“The initial effort will focus on communities hardest hit by COVID-19 which includes Del Valle ISD, Manor ISD, Pflugerville ISD, and Title 1 schools in Austin ISD,” he said.

The Austin Independent School District said once the state has the vaccines, it will offer shots for students in that age group at its weekly vaccine clinics. People do not have to register to get the vaccine; they can just show up.

According to DSHS, the pediatric COVID vaccine comes in a different formulation than the vaccine approved for adults. State health officials say it’s therefore important to find providers who have received the pediatric vaccine, specifically, before getting children in this age group vaccinated.

KUT’s Claire McInerny contributed to this report.

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