PHOENIX — State health officials said they're ready to distribute hundreds of thousands of coronavirus vaccines to children once they get the green light from federal regulators.
If approved, 28 million kids would be eligible for a low-dose version of the Pfizer vaccine. According to the state, there are 600,000 kids in Arizona ages 5-11.
"We've been working with our federal partners for a number of weeks now," said Jessica Rigler, an assistant director with the Arizona Department of Health Services.
According to Rigler, the state's first wave of doses will be a third of those needed to vaccinate all eligible children.
"That shipment would be divided up among all the counties in Arizona based on the population size of 5- to 11-year-olds."
Additionally, Rigler told ABC15 that the vaccines could be ready to go within 24 hours of getting approved.
"And so we anticipate, based on what we're hearing, as soon as the CDC makes their recommendation, which should be Nov. 3, we'll start to see doses the next day and they'll be delivered directly to healthcare providers in the state."
The state said vaccines will go to pediatricians, pharmacies, and schools. There will also be outreach targeting underserved and low-income communities.
Meanwhile, the White House said it plans to work with local children's hospitals to get kids vaccinated.
"We already have experience getting the vaccine in older kids. We just have to coordinate this with the state," said Dr. Wassim Ballan, an infectious disease expert with Phoenix Children's.
"We want to make sure that people understand and know this is a safe and effective vaccine," he added.
According to Ballan, a majority of children that get infected with COVID-19 do not have to be hospitalized. However, they could suffer from other, more serious complications including MIS-C, brain fog, fatigue and more.
"Most children, if they get infected, are not going to be in the hospital but that's not the whole story," he said.
"There's still a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration when we're trying to make a decision, and this is why we're really advocating for all children who are eligible to get the vaccine," Ballan added.
The state said they'll post a list of places where children can get vaccinated once the doses are ready to be distributed.