Over 900K U.S. Kids Got COVID Shots Last Week, About 700K Scheduled in Coming Days

The White House revealed that over 900,000 children ages 5 to 11 have received their first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.

Nearly 20,000 pharmacies, clinics and pediatricians across the country are administering the shots after the official federal clearance on November 2. Around 700,000 first-shot appointments have also been scheduled for the coming days. Children who receive their first shot of the vaccine by next week will be fully vaccinated against the virus by Christmas.

This initial surge was expected due to the long waiting period that parents had to endure before protecting their young children. However, the demand could recede quickly. Experts said that the vaccination trend that was seen when children ages 12 to 15 were given authorization could play out again.

Shannon Stokley, the acting deputy director of the CDC's Immunization Services Division, said that there was a similar burst of adolescent vaccinations before the number steadily decreased. Only half of all teenagers ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated, a stark difference from the 70 percent of fully vaccinated adults in the country.

Studies have shown that COVID-19 is far more dangerous to adults than children. However, more than 2 million infections have been reported in children ages 5 to 11 in the country, with 66 deaths occurring over the past year.

"Parents may have the perception it may not be as serious in young children or they don't transmit it," Stokley told the Associated Press. "We're going to have a lot of work to do to communicate to parents about why it's important to get children vaccinated."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

LA Child Vaccination
More than 900,000 children ages 5 to 11 have received their first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. A child receives a dose of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine at an event launching school vaccinations in Los Angeles, California on November 5, 2021. Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The first doses to kids began in some locations the day after final federal clearance was given.

The estimated increase in vaccinations in elementary school-age children appears similar to a jump seen in May when adolescents ages 12 to 15 became eligible for shots.

About 28 million 5- to 11-year-olds are now eligible for the low-dose Pfizer vaccine.

The administration is encouraging schools to host vaccine clinics on site to make it even easier for kids to get shots. The White House is also asking schools to share information from "trusted messengers" like doctors and public health officials to combat misinformation around the vaccines.

An initial surge in demand for vaccinations was expected from parents who have been waiting for the chance to protect their younger kids, especially before the holidays.

Experts note polling data suggested only a fraction of parents have planned to get their kids shots immediately.

In the first week after vaccines for children ages 12 to 15 were authorized in May, the number of adolescents getting a first shot jumped by roughly 900,000, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics analysis of federal data. The next week, it rose even further, to 1.6 million.

But then the number dropped steadily for months, interrupted only briefly in early August as the Delta variant surged and parents prepared to send children back to school.

Since then, adolescent vaccinations have flagged considerably, to just 32,000 getting their first shots last week.

Seattle Child Vaccination
Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. Andre Mattus, right, a nurse at the University of Washington Medical Center, gives the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Amar Gunderson, 6 1/2, November 9 in Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren