PHOENIX - State-run vaccination sites in Arizona began offering vaccination for children ages 12 to 15 on May 13 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded emergency use authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.
Last month, Pfizer said Phase 3 clinical trials found its COVID-19 vaccine was safe and 100% effective among this age group. The preliminary data showed there were no cases among the fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given placebo shots.
"It has been through the same clinical trials as all other vaccines," said Dr. Wassim Ballan with the Phoenix Children's Hospital. "We know risks with vaccines are rare."
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Centers for Disease Control followed suit with the FDA on Wednesday with their recommendation to vaccinate those who are 12 and older.
Following the CDC's recommendation, parents are now able to bring children ages 12 to 15 to state-run sites in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff.
Arizona has nearly 400,000 children aged 12 to 15, representing nearly 5.6% of the state’s population.
Dr. Bassan added that it was important for this age demographic to get it based on recent data.
"What we have seen lately is the number of pediatric patients testing positive for the virus is going up," he said.
Doctors say that most of the time, this age range does well against COVID, but they still want to stress the importance and safety of this vaccine because it will stop asymptomatic spread.
"More than a million kids over 16 who have gotten the vaccine…we haven’t seen those adverse effects people are concerned about," Bassan said.
Parents can register their children by visiting podvaccine.azdhs.gov, or by calling 844-542-8201.
Appointments aren’t necessary but they help save time at the site by taking care of registration beforehand, officials said.
The department said a parent or guardian must accompany the child and sign a consent form in person, including an attestation that the child is at least 12 years old. No identification is required for the child, the department said.
"We’re delighted to be able to welcome these young people to state-run mass-vaccination sites starting Thursday," said AZDHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. "These safe, highly effective, and free vaccines are our best shot at returning to normal, and having more vaccinated individuals gives COVID-19 less of a chance of spreading."
Parents express mixed reactions
Robert McDonald is thrilled his 14-year-old daughter is now eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.
"We are happy about that it allows our life to return back to normal again," McDonald said.
However, some parents aren't convinced.
"To each their own, I'm not giving it to my kids," one parent said.
For McDonald, he says it was his daughter's decision, and they are ready for a summer of travel as a family.
"Going back to Disneyland, traveling again and going to California without having to worry about [being] exposed to the virus," McDonald said.
The state on Thursday reported 544 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and eight deaths, increasing the pandemic totals to 871,168 cases and 17,438 deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Monitor your health daily
Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu.
Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.
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