INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Health and Illinois Department of Public Health are ready to begin vaccinating youths ages 12 to 15.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the use of the Pfizer vaccine for this new age group on Wednesday following the FDA’s expansion of the vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one of the three COVID-19 vaccines that is currently approved for use in individuals younger than age 18.
Knox County health officer Dr. Alan Stewart says the age expansion is a plus for everyone.
“We are very excited about the fact that they will be vaccinating or have available vaccines for the 12 to 15 year old,” said Dr. Stewart. “This is going to add another segment of the population.”
In Indiana, registration for the new age group opened at 8 a.m. Thursday on the state’s vaccination website.
Adam Thacker, Chief Operations Officer for Good Samaritan Hospital says they’re already seeing children in the new age range being signed up for the vaccine but it’s important to note that with this new age group, the vaccine process is a little different.
“Really the fundamental difference in this latest approval with the 12 to 15 year old population is the parental consent or legal guardian aspect,” said Thacker. “The 12 to 15 year old, a parent or guardians does have to be physically present with the patient to be vaccinated.”
“The Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 and was well tolerated by adolescents participating in clinical trials,” State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG said. “This vaccine is the next step toward getting back to normal for children who have missed out on so much over the past year, including school and extracurricular activities. Those who are fully vaccinated will no longer have to quarantine if they are a close contact of a positive case unless they develop symptoms of COVID. That is welcome news for both children and parents.”
To find a vaccination clinic that offers the Pfizer vaccine in Indiana, visit https://ourshot.in.gov and search for a site that lists Pfizer as an option, or call 211 if you do not have access to a computer or require assistance. Appointments are recommended, but walk-ins are permitted.
Dr. Stewart encourages all who are eligible to be vaccinated because the virus can cause serious complications for all ages.
“it is possible for the children to get very ill. We have actually seen a case of the multi-inflammatory syndrome in our community which is very dangerous and potentially life threatening,” said Dr. Stewart. “So, anything we can do to increase the number of people with vaccine and decrease the spread of virus, we’re very anxious to do.”
In Illinois, COVID-19 vaccinations for those 12 years and older are available at state-supported mass vaccination and mobile clinics, local health departments, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and from other providers who offer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The Illinois Department of Public Health is working to enroll pediatricians into the State immunization registry so they can administer COVID-19 vaccine to their patients. Additionally, schools may partner with the local health department or pharmacy to set up vaccination clinics for students.
Individuals should check with their local health department or health care provider about whether a parent or guardian must be present for an individual under the age of 18 to receive the vaccine, or whether some other form of written consent is required.
An adult must accompany a child age 12 to 15 to the appointment; parental consent is required for minors.