NYC-run vaccine sites to offer shots to kids as early as Thursday, pending CDC guidance

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — New York City-run vaccination sites will be able to administer COVID-19 shots to children ages 5 to 11 as early as Thursday, pending guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

The announcement came less than 24 hours after U.S. health officials gave the final clearance to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for young children. 

“Tomorrow’s going to be a historic day for this city and our fight against COVID as we reach our youngest New Yorkers,” the mayor said. 

Assuming the CDC gives out their final guidance Wednesday, the city-run sites will be up and ready to vaccinate kids Thursday, de Blasio added.

When asked what exactly the city was waiting for before administering the vaccines for kids, NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said they need the CDC’s clinical guidance and consideration on the vaccinations as the city has a range of providers, some more or less familiar with vaccinations among pediatrics.

With the guidance, providers will be able to look and make sure every step is taken, according to Dr. Chokshi.

The health commissioner added they have been working to prepare providers for weeks, so once the guidance is released, they will be up and running. “These are just the final steps.”

Both Dr. Chokshi and Dr. Mitchel Katz, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, said they will accept walk-ins at city-run sites, but they suggest making appointments as wait times vary daily. 

Millions of shots made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have already been shipped to states, doctors’ offices and pharmacies, ahead of CDC’s decision.

The Food and Drug Administration previously OK’d the kid-size doses — just a third of the amount given to teens and adults — as safe and effective for the younger age group.

Prior to the CDC’s approval, the mayor announced on Oct. 28 that the city would be ready to begin vaccinating New York City children within hours of approval. 

Parents in the city who would prefer their child get vaccinated at a location more familiar or convenient won’t have to wait much longer.

De Blasio also previously said vaccine shots for young children will be available at pediatrician offices, pharmacies and other vaccination sites within 48 hours of CDC approval.

In addition, the mayor announced beginning Monday, Nov. 8, there will be vaccine sites set up in several schools across the five boroughs.

Over the course of a week, 1,070 school vaccination sites will be set up, with over 200 school sites each day, according to the mayor.

A child must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get vaccinated, but they can also obtain verbal consent by phone, de Blasio added.

Additional details will be provided on Thursday.

When asked whether or not he would enforce a vaccine mandate among children during his last months in office, the mayor said he does not intend to enforce a vaccine mandate as the decision whether or not to get them vaccinated is usually up to the parent or guardian, and he does not want children to be penalized.

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