COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved on Tuesday the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) supports this action and is excited to work with vaccine providers to ensure access for ages 5-11 throughout the state. Parents can start getting their children in this age group vaccinated today.
“Approval of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 5-11 is a major step forward for South Carolina and the rest of our nation in our fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “We want people to know that a great deal of research and analysis went into the approval of the vaccine for this age group. This research has shown that the vaccine is safe and effective in children ages 5 –11. The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC would not have signed off on using this vaccine with this age group without this research, and the same goes for DHEC. We are encouraged by this news and are excited to offer this vaccine to the 436,352 South Carolinian children in this age group.”
The full CDC statement on the vaccine approval can be found here. In part, it states:
- Similar to what was seen in adult vaccine trials, vaccination was nearly 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 among children aged 5-11 years.
- Vaccinating children will help protect them from getting COVID-19 and therefore reducing their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, or developing long-term COVID-19 complications.
- Distribution of pediatric vaccinations across the country started this week, with plans to scale up to full capacity starting the week of Nov. 8.
In anticipation of the approval, DHEC last month began developing its vaccine rollout plan for South Carolinians ages 5-11. At the same time, the federal government informed South Carolina we would receive 152,100 pediatric vaccine doses in the first week of availability. We have already received more than 60,000 of these doses and expect to receive the rest of them today and Friday. The state will continue to receive weekly shipments beginning next week. The federal government has enough doses for all 28 million children in this age group, so a phased rollout will not be necessary like it was for adult vaccines last winter.
Pediatric vaccinations are being distributed this week to more than 250 vaccine providers in South Carolina including many pediatricians and family practice providers. We are also distributing to many but not all, hospital systems who may further distribute within their networks, DHEC health departments, federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, provider offices, and mobile vaccine vendors, among others. That said, it is important to note that while vaccines are making their way to our state, providers are working to update and train their staff on the final CDC recommendations for pediatric vaccines. It is best to contact your provider for availability prior to visiting a site.
“Just like a measles or polio shot, the COVID-19 vaccine will stave off this deadly virus and allow our children to safely attend school and focus on bettering themselves in the classroom,” Simmer added. “We strongly urge parents to learn more about this vaccine and protect their children by taking advantage of this life-saving opportunity.”
COVID-19 vaccinations are available for ages 5 and up. Visit DHEC COVID-19 webpage for more information, the locator page to find a nearby place to get vaccinated, or call our Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110.