Rio Grande Valley school districts were keeping an eye on the Food and Drug Administration as the White House detailed plans Wednesday for the expected authorization of the Pfizer shot for children 5-11 in a matter of weeks.
The Region One Education Service Center in Edinburg, which serves school districts from Laredo to Brownsville, welcomed news that the Pfizer shot was nearing authorization for elementary school-age children.
“The health and safety of the students and educators in our region remains our top concern,” Region One Interim Executive Director Judith M. Solis said.
“If the availability of a vaccine for students ages 5–11 provides an option for parents and districts to take precautions against COVID-19, then it is certainly welcomed news. How a school district comes to the decision of how to, or whether to, administer the vaccine for this age group is a decision that is made at the local level.”
The Brownsville Independent School District said it is ready to start administering COVID 19 vaccines to elementary school children as soon as the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention give the go-ahead.
The Los Fresnos school district was advising parents to consult with their pediatrician and go through local pharmacies, but said it does not have a vaccination clinic planned at this time. In the past, Los Fresnos has partnered with the Cameron County Health Authority for large-scale vaccination clinics.
However, rolling out Pfizer shots for young children, along with the smaller needles needed for injecting them, will be different than when the vaccines first became available for adults 10 months ago. This time there is an ample supply of vaccines and the infrastructure is in place for administering the shots
More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary care providers across the country have already signed on to dispense the vaccine to elementary school children. About 15 million doses will be shipped to providers in the first week after final authorization is granted, the White House said.
Early Wednesday morning BISD put in an order to the Department of State Health Services for 42,000 Pfizer youth vaccines, 21,000 first and 21,000 second doses, aiming to be ready when authorization comes, Health Services Director Alonso Guererro said. BISD became a vaccine provider early in the pandemic and is able to administer vaccines on its own. BISD has coordinated with the City of Brownsville to provide vaccine clinics across the city.
The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart and a two-week wait for full protection to kick in, meaning the first youngsters in line will be fully covered by Christmas.
Guererro said BISD plans a drive-thru vaccination clinic in a central location on the first Saturday after authorization is granted. The district can deliver about 1,000 vaccinations in three hours. Later, BISD will host smaller vaccination clinics at elementary schools around the district, Guererro said.