By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel voted 17-0 Tuesday to recommend emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the federal government has allocated 171,000 doses of the Pfizer pediatric vaccine to Colorado for the initial rollout.

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Gov. Jared Polis released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“This recommendation marks a strong and long-awaited step toward full approval of the safe and effective COVID vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11 years old and an important milestone in the fight to end the pandemic. Our youngest Coloradans will soon have a tool to protect themselves from this dangerous virus so they can enjoy in-person learning without fear and so they can safely visit their grandparents and friends. Science and data tell us children are vulnerable to the virus and that the vaccine can protect them. Child COVID-related hospitalizations are preventable once kids have the ability to roll up their sleeves and get the life-saving vaccine. Like other Colorado kids, our children know the vaccine can protect them and we support them in their pursuit of protection. I urge the full FDA and CDC to act quickly on the advisory panel’s recommendation and approve the other safe and effective COVID vaccines for our country’s children and end this pandemic.”

CDPHE says the CDC estimates the first shipments will arrive in Colorado on Nov. 1 or 2. Parents like Stephanie Sullivan say their kids are ready to get the shot.

“She’s only gone to six months of kindergarten in a regular world. Now here we are halfway through 2nd grade. She doesn’t know what regular life is. We owe it to our kids to give them that opportunity,” said Sullivan. “They look forward to a life without a mask whenever that may come. I think that might drive some of their excitement.”

Sullivan works for HealthOne, a hospital system in the metro area.

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children says many families still have unanswered questions. RMHC still doesn’t have confirmation if they’ll be a vaccine site for this age group, but they’re hopeful.

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“We are excited to bring these vaccines to children. It is a process and there are a lot of unknowns of how this is going to look and how they are going to distribute the vaccine,” said Laura-Anne Cleveland, Associate Chief Nursing Officer at RMHC.

Cleveland says the hospital has gotten a lot of interest from parents looking to vaccinate their children in this age group. Nationwide, however, only 30% of parents say they would get their children vaccinated as soon as its approved.

CDPHE anticipates parents will be able to access vaccines for children ages of 5 and 11 at many of the same places administering vaccines right now, like doctor’s offices, pharmacies, school-based health clinics, etc.

Pfizer says it’s possible children ages 5-11 could become vaccine-eligible the first week of November.

Tori Mason