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How Idaho's preparing for the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine

A nurse prepares a vaccine vial
Steven Cornfield

Doses of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine could be on their way to Idaho very soon.

Advisors to the Food and Drug Administration are recommending the agency authorize the Pfizer vaccine for kids 5 to 11. The FDA itself will decide in the next few days, and a final call could come as soon as next week when the CDC and its advisory board meets.

“We’ll have doses in the state ready to be administered as soon as CDC makes the recommendation,” said Sarah Leeds, the immunization program manager at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, during a media briefing Tuesday.

The state has pre-ordered 44,700 pediatric doses, most of which will go to health districts and family doctors' offices. The health districts will then distribute the shots to providers within their regions. About 1% of the pediatric doses will go to hospitals. On top of the state's initial allotment, more than 12,000 doses will be sent directly to pharmacies in the state.

"That really changes the landscape for children and parents who have been waiting for this,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn.

The expanded eligibility could also make a difference for Idaho, a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates and one the largest shares of kids and teens among its population.

The logistics are not without challenges, though. There’s a lower dosage for the young kids and different handling requirements, which mean the shots can't be stored for as long as the adult version.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.