Charlie Baker

Baker to Give Update Thursday on Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccinations in Mass.

Gov. Charlie Baker will speak from Boston Children's Hospital

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Gov. Charlie Baker is scheduled to speak Thursday at Boston Children's Hospital about plans for COVID-19 pediatric vaccinations in Massachusetts, two days after kid-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine cleared two final hurdles Tuesday -- a recommendation from CDC advisers, followed by the green light from Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Baker will be joined in the hospital's Folkman Auditorium by Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner Margret Cooke and medical professionals from Children's while providing an update on the shots for kids aged 5 to 11.

The 10:30 a.m. event will be livestreamed here.

Thousands of pediatricians pre-ordered doses, and Pfizer began shipments soon after the Food and Drug Administration's decision Friday to authorize emergency use. Pfizer said it expects to make 19,000 shipments totaling about 11 million doses in the coming days, and millions more will be available to order on a weekly basis. Authorities said they expect a smooth rollout, unlike the chaos that plagued the national one for adults nearly a year ago. 

With the federal government promising enough vaccine to protect the nation's 28 million kids in this age group, pediatricians' offices and hospitals began inoculating children, with schools, pharmacies and other locations planning to follow suit in the days ahead. 

Health officials have hailed shots for kids aged 5 to 11 as a major breakthrough after more than 18 months of illness, hospitalizations, deaths and disrupted education.

White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said the kid vaccination campaign will be at full speed next week as Pfizer continues to ship millions more doses to locations around the country. Walgreens planned to start kids' vaccinations Saturday and said parents could sign up online or by calling 1-800-Walgreens. CVS was also accepting appointments online and by phone at select pharmacies starting Sunday.

Some skeptics have questioned the need for kids to get vaccinated since they are less likely than adults to develop severe COVID-19. But with the delta variant, they get infected and transmit "just as readily as adults do,'' Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a recent White House briefing. Infected kids have also contributed to the U.S. toll of almost 46 million infections and more than 740,000 deaths. Since the pandemic began, at least 94 children aged 5 to 11 have died from COVID-19, more than 8,300 have been hospitalized and over 5,000 have developed a serious inflammatory condition linked to the coronavirus. 

NBC10 Boston/The Associated Press
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