State updates timing of pediatric vaccine distribution

BOSTON — Massachusetts is expecting an initial shipment of 360,000 doses of pediatric vaccine against COVID-19 by the first week of November and is hoping to have distribution channels ready to start delivering the shots at more than 700 locations around the state.

About 515,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 in Massachusetts could become eligible for COVID-19 shots by early November, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said Thursday during a legislative oversight hearing.

The state has been planning since the spring to make the vaccine and information about it available through parents’ most trusted sources of information, like schools and pediatricians, and is expecting an initial shipment of 360,000 doses of the pediatric vaccine no later than Nov. 5.

At least 289 health care providers with about 700 locations across the state have so far indicated to the state that they plan to vaccinate kids, Sudders said. Health care providers will get half of the state’s allotment of pediatric doses and pharmacies that are part of the federal program will get the other half. Going forward, providers will order additional doses directly from the federal government, Sudders said.

Though she said she would like to see 90 percent of the initial doses put to use within 30 days, the secretary also said the state’s first goal is ensuring there is equal access to the vaccine for kids.

“So we’ve mapped out where we have locations and finalizing with our federal retail pharmacy partners where they will have locations. So the first thing is just like, where do we have access and where do we have gaps?” she said.

Sudders said more information on how parents will be able to sign their children up to get the shot will be coming next week.

“There will be a mix of, as there has been, appointment basis and walk-ins, and which primary care practices have signed up, and how local boards of health who’ve signed up how they want to manage it,” she said. “Now that we know who, it’s how.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s independent advisory committee meets Oct. 26 to consider approval of vaccination for kids as young as 5 and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s advisory group does the same on Nov. 2 and 3. The White House outlined steps Wednesday -- including enrolling tens of thousands of pediatricians and pharmacies to give the shots and organizing hundreds of school-based clinics -- that it said “mean that we will be ready to begin getting shots in arms in the days following a final CDC recommendation.”

In the last two weeks, 1,578 or 8.7 percent of the state’s total confirmed new COVID-19 cases were identified in children between the ages of 5 and 9. Kids aged 10 through 14 -- some of whom are already eligible to get vaccinated -- accounted for 1,671 new cases or 9.2 percent of the total. If kids ages 5 through 14 were counted in the state’s daily report as a single 10-year age group, it would have the greatest number of new cases -- 3,249 -- over the last two weeks.

Sudders said Thursday that about 73 or 74 percent of kids 12 or older in Massachusetts have been vaccinated.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW