SC children 5 to 11 may be eligible for COVID vaccine as early as next week, DHEC says

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South Carolina children age 5-11 could be eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as early as next week, state epidemiologist Linda Bell told reporters Wednesday.

This comes one day after a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for emergency authorization for the age group, the first hurdle to making the vaccine available to younger children.

Vaccinating children age 5-11 “will give us a huge advantage in fighting the pandemic” and could mean a “significant reduction in cases in schools,” Bell said.

“Getting kids vaccinated as early as possible could really change how our children, their families and our communities can enjoy the holidays,” Bell said.

Before South Carolina health officials can begin their push to vaccinate children, though, the Pfizer vaccine will need FDA authorization, a recommendation from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel and an additional recommendation from the CDC director, Bell said.

That could come as early as the latter half of next week.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control is finalizing the details for pediatric vaccine roll out once federal approval comes down, Bell said. Health officials are also working with the state Department of Education to increase COVID-19 vaccinations among students.

“We are in a position to have those vaccines ordered,” Bell said.

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