PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands of kid-sized doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will soon be on their way to Rhode Island after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency use of the shots Friday.
The FDA approved the specialized Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children under the age of 5, making more than 18 million kids eligible to receive the shot.
The authorization paves the way for vaccinations to begin as early as next week nationwide.
Joseph Wendelken, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Health, tells 12 News the state has ordered roughly 20,800 doses of the pediatric vaccines so far. He explained that those shots will be evenly split between Pfizer and Moderna.
“This is the maximum amount we could order, given our population size,” Wendelken said. “We will be able to place another order the last week of June.”
Since Pfizer is a three-dose vaccine for kids, as compared to Moderna’s two-dose shot, Wendelken believes fewer children will receive a Pfizer vaccine from the state’s initial shipment.
Wendelken said due to the logistics of ordering and administering the vaccines, the shots likely won’t be available in Rhode Island until late June or early July.
“Given the need to redistribute vaccine, we have been telling health care providers and parents that administration at most sites would start the following week,” he explained. “However, this is assuming that everything goes as scheduled, in terms of shipments.”
Wendelken said the state expects the first order of shots to arrive sometime next week.
The vaccines will be distributed to pharmacies, pediatricians and health care clinics across the state, according to Wendelken. He said it’s possible some sites will start administering the shots earlier than the state initially anticipated.
Wendelken said the state is planning on organizing school-based vaccination clinics this fall.