ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday the state has a strong network of health care providers and others who are ready to administer the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to children ages 5 to 11 once final federal recommendations are issued next week.
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Tuesday voted to back Pfizer's low dose vaccine for children. The FDA isn’t bound by the panel’s recommendation and is expected to make its own decision within days. If the FDA concurs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have to decide whether to recommend the shots and which youngsters should get them.
Walz said Minnesota has more than 1,100 providers, including pediatricians, pharmacies, community clinics, schools and health agencies, that are ready to administer the vaccine.
“The state is prepared for this critical moment in the battle against COVID-19. Our goal is to ensure that the vaccine is widely, equitably, and efficiently available to all children ages 5-11. We’ll be ready to do our part when the federal government gives us the green light, and I encourage parents to get their children vaccinated when the shots are ready,” Walz said in a statement.
Children are not immune from the severe effects of COVID-19, and common underlying conditions like asthma and obesity can put kids at an even greater risk of severe illness, health officials said.
Since July 1, there have been more than 45,200 pediatric cases and more than 300 child hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in Minnesota.