COVID vaccines for kids 5 to 11 roll out this week. Where to get them

A COVID-19 vaccine will be made available to children ages 5 to 11 this week, and the rollout is likely look much different than the distribution process used for other age groups over the past 10 months.

After the FDA offered its stamp of approval on Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine last week, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed suit on Tuesday. .

With the sign-off of CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, the vaccine passes the final regulatory hurdle, and the White House can immediately begin its mission of vaccinating the roughly 28 million 5 to 11 year-olds that live in the U.S. And rather than relying on the mass vaccination sites that were often used to inoculate adults this past spring, White House officials are instead opting to have more trusted providers administer the vaccine in smaller settings this time around.

That is, White House officials are planning on making this specially packaged pediatric vaccine—it comes in smaller doses and packaging and is delivered with smaller needles—available at more than 25,000 pediatricians’ and doctors’ offices, hundreds of children’s hospitals, tens of thousands of pharmacies, and hundreds of community and rural health centers. White House officials also said that they’ll work with state and local education leaders to “bring vaccination clinics directly to schools.”

“Kids have different needs than adults, and our operational planning is geared to meet those specific needs, including by offering vaccinations in settings that parents and kids are familiar with and trust,” Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said at a press briefing on Oct. 20. “We know millions of parents have been waiting for COVID-19 vaccine for kids in this age group, and should the FDA and CDC authorize the vaccine, we will be ready to get shots in arms.”

Because this Pfizer pediatric vaccine differs in terms of both dose size and packaging, the Biden administration could not use the existing supply of COVID-19 vaccines geared toward other age groups to meet pediatric demand.

Still, Zients said that they have secured enough supply to vaccinate all 28 million children in the 5-to-11 age group and that preparations are in place to begin administering shots immediately after receiving regulatory approval. The administration has already begun delivering 15 million doses nationwide which will be made available to meet immediate demand now that regulatory approval has been secured. Millions more will be going out each week after that, according to Zients.

Of the initial 15 million doses to be made available in the first week of approval, 10 million will be sent to local jurisdictions, 5 million to pharmacies, and 265,000 to federal entities, according to reporting from The Washington Post, based on a CDC planning document.

Further, according to The Washington Post, the federal government aims to equitably distribute the initial doses to each state by allocating them according to each state’s population of eligible children. For example, New York will receive roughly 380,000 pre-ordered doses of the Pfizer vaccine for over 1.5 million eligible children, with 231,000 of those doses going to New York City. The 380,000 shots are split up primarily among public health providers (roughly 140,000 doses), hospitals (nearly 100,000), pediatricians and family doctors (90,000), and pharmacies (roughly 17,000 between local and chain pharmacies), according to detailed plans laid out by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and her top epidemiologist on Oct. 27.

Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. together are set to receive about 600,000 doses, and Illinois was initially allocated around 500,000.

Where can I get my child a COVID-19 vaccine?

Public officials, physicians, and pharmacies, among others, have been gearing up over the past few weeks to be able to quickly meet initial demand for this pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.

For example, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that vaccines will be available for children at city-run vaccination sites within 24 hours of CDC authorization. Doses will also be made available at pediatricians’ offices, pharmacies, and other vaccination sites across the city 48 hours following the CDC decision, according to de Blasio.

But while some children may be able to receive a COVID-19 shot by the end of the week, availability will depend on the state, city, and county. Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said on Monday that the federal distribution program for the COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5 to 11 will be ‘fully up and running’ at the beginning of next week.

“Starting the week of Nov. 8, the kids vaccination program will be fully up and running,” Zients said at a White House briefing. “Parents will be able to schedule appointments at convenient sites they know and trust to get their kids vaccinated.”   

While only 27% of parents say they will get their 5 to 11 year-old vaccinated—down from 34% in September—according to an October poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, here are some options those parents will have.

CDC website

The CDC launched back in February to help people in search of a COVID-19 vaccine know where to go. Now that it has secured regulatory approval, the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 should be added onto the site, allowing parents to search for a nearby location that offers it.

Pediatric offices and other primary care sites

Parents can also contact their preferred pediatrician or family doctor to inquire about whether it has doses in stock and appointments available. Because of storage challenges and initial allocation limits, not all pediatricians or doctors will immediately have access. Thus, it’s worth checking what your individual pediatrician’s plan is.

For example, StarMed Healthcare in Charlotte, North Carolina, is already allowing parents to pre-book an appointment on its website for their children to receive a first dose of the vaccine.

On the other hand, Columbia Pediatrics of New York City said over the phone on Monday that information about appointments and availability of doses would not be made available until early next week most likely, once the CDC had issued its decision.


The pharmacies that will carry this vaccine will vary by state and county, but White House officials have clearly placed an emphasis on ensuring that the vaccine will be available at pharmacies of all type, as pharmacies will receive 5 million of the initial 15 million doses.

CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Walmart—among many others—all make the list of Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination partners and are likely to have the pediatric vaccine in supply as a result. New Hampshire already lists those four pharmacies as vaccination sites for children ages 5 to 11.

The CDC does note that not all pharmacies on the list will have the vaccine in stock at all times depending on the location and territory one lives in, and the agency encourages “individuals who are interested in getting vaccinated at their local pharmacy” to “check the pharmacy’s website to find out if COVID-19 vaccine is available and if they are eligible for vaccination.”

Currently, most pharmacies’ websites identify those between ages 5 and 11 as not being eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. That will change now that the FDA and CDC have given their authorization.

Chris Cox, senior vice president for pharmacy business at CVS, told The New York Times that thousands of CVS locations would have doses by the end of the week.

Other local, non-chain pharmacies may have vaccine supply as well. Regardless, parents should check with their pharmacy of choice to see if it carries the vaccine and has appointments available.


Many states and cities are likely to rely on schools to set up vaccination sites at some point. Some, like New York, may opt to have pediatric offices and pharmacies handle the first wave of child vaccinations before schools are asked to assist.

Others, like Chicago, are planning on deploying vaccine doses at schools within the public school district.

Parents should check and see whether or not their child’s school district is offering the vaccine if other options are not feasible.


The Biden administration partnered with the Children’s Hospital Association to work with over 100 children’s hospital systems across the country to set up vaccination sites.

“Participating hospitals will work to partner with community- and faith-based organizations, school districts, and other partners to conduct outreach to their local communities, and offer vaccinations at convenient hours that work for kids and their parents – such as after school, evenings, and on weekends,” a White House briefing said.

Community health centers and rural health clinics

According to a White House briefing, over 3 million 5 to 11 year-olds across the country get their primary health care from community health centers. The Biden administration said it aims to make vaccine supply available at these health centers and clinics.

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