State sites will start vaccinating ages 12 to 15 on Thursday
State hopes half of them will get the vaccine
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona-run vaccination sites in Tucson, Phoenix, Yuma and Flagstaff, along with many pharmacies and other providers around the state, will begin offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to children 12 to 15 years old on Thursday, May 13. This step forward follows Wednesday’s approval by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is great news for families across Arizona,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “In addition to encouraging parents and guardians to protect those ages 12 to 15 from COVID-19, we hope adults in the family will roll up their sleeves as well if they haven’t already done so.”
But the question is, how do you convince a 12 year old that they need to get a vaccine that may make them fairly sick for a day or two.
“I think kids are always, at least have a little fear of getting a shot,” Christ said. “Just explain your immune system is going to react.”
Because the kids will get the same dose as the adults get, there’s a chance they will also develop a fever, body aches, chills the same as the adults did.
But to mitigate that concern, the state plans to tell the kids they may no longer have to stay away from their friends if they all get the shot.
“Returning back to normal, being able to go to birthday parties, participate in extracurricular activities and all those things that they make look forward to,” Christ said.
But there’s also the safety aspect that may resonate with some of them.
“Telling them that the shot is not only going to protect them but it’s also going to protect Nana, grandma, grandpa and all of those people we love and want to stick around for years to come,” she said.
Arizona has nearly 400,000 children ages 12 to 15. To date, 5,408,077 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to 3,076,913 individuals, with 2,534,272 now fully vaccinated.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vacci.ne for age 12-15 on Monday, followed by today’s CDC recommendation. The approval applies only to the Pfizer vaccine, which has been available to ages 16 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older.
Moderna is working on its paperwork and testing needed to vaccinate the younger group but has not said when approval is likely.
Pfizer is working on approval for children ages 2 and up.
For the state, it’s a numbers game in trying to get to herd immunity. That is to the point where enough people have been vaccinated that there a no longer enough hosts to spread it.
Beginning Thursday morning, parents and guardians may bring those ages 12 to 15 to state vaccination sites as walk-ins or schedule an appointment at podvaccine.azdhs.gov. Many pharmacies and other providers with Pfizer also plan to begin vaccinating this age group Thursday. The ADHS vaccine finder available at azdhs.gov/FindVaccine allows visitors to filter locations by vaccine type.
ADHS is coordinating with rural counties that until now have received only the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines so 12- to 15-year-olds can get vaccinated.
The state is trying to make it as easy as possible to get a vaccine so it has not encumbered the process with a lot of rules and regulations.
A parent or guardian must accompany the child and sign a consent form in person that includes an attestation that the child is at least 12 years old. No identification is required for the child. Place of permanent residence isn’t a factor in whether someone can be vaccinated at a state site.
Parents and guardians also will be able to register those ages 12 to 15 for vaccination starting Thursday by visiting podvaccine.azdhs.gov or calling 844-542-8201 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to be connected with someone who can assist in English or Spanish. Appointments aren’t required for state-run sites, but they are a way to reduce the length of a visit because registration is taken care of in advance.
COVID-19 continues to infect, hospitalize, and cause death in Arizonans, though case numbers, percent positivity, intensive care unit use, and in-patient hospital bed use have been relatively stable since March. Today, ADHS added 469 cases and two deaths to its COVID-19 data dashboard.
Many sites across Arizona now offer COVID-19 vaccines, including grocery store pharmacies and standalone pharmacies. Doctors’ offices and other neighborhood healthcare providers can order vaccines directly from the CDC.
“These safe, highly effective, and free vaccines have never been easier to get,” Dr. Christ said. “The sooner we can get as many people as possible vaccinated against COVID-19, the better we can protect people of all ages from this unpredictable virus.”
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination, please visit azdhs.gov/COVID19Vaccines.
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