Texas officials say they're ready to distribute pediatric COVID-19 shots

The state of Texas is already mapping out how to distribute the first allotment pediatric COVID-19 shots for children.

The two-dose vaccine for 5-to 11-year olds is a lower-strength version of the vaccine for children 12 and older.

"We are actively working across all of our state partners in order to make sure the vaccine roll out for the new age group will go smoothly," said Commissioner Imelda Garcia, Texas Department of State Health Services. 

In a webinar Monday, state health officials said pending final FDA approval, the federal government is set to authorize an initial 1 million doses for Texas. There are 2.9 million Texas youngsters in the 5-11 age bracket. 

Officials say they cannot yet provide a breakdown as to how many of those doses will go to large hospital systems versus pediatric offices.

"The DSHS, not only through our county public health regions but through our contracted vendor teams… will be coordinating with the counties that may not have placed orders to offer the pediatric vaccine within those communities," Garcia said.

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She says a number of school districts have expressed interest in administering the vaccine to students. They are also working on education campaigns geared toward parents who may be vaccine hesitant.

"Some of our new media campaigns have started to roll out, additionally our contract for community-based organizations are being finalized in order to help bring community-based organizations doing educations with parents in order to help with vaccine hesitancy," Garcia said.

Senior Scientific Advisor Doctor Saroj Rai pointed out education about side effects with the children’s vaccine is especially important so parents know what to expect. 

"The most common side effects reported for pain at the injection site, fatigue and headache," Rai said.

As of Monday afternoon, there was slow but growing demand. Officials say 134 Texas counties, less than half in the state, had not placed orders for the 5-11 vaccine. Officials reiterated the number is increasing by the day.