Bluegrass State begins giving Pfizer vaccine to children as young as 12

Kentucky

Registered Nurse Morgan James loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage on March 19, 2021. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) – Health officials in Kentucky will start administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Kentuckians between the ages of 12 and 15 beginning today, Thursday, May 13.

The state’s announcement follows the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Wednesday decision to approve the Pfizer shot to that age group. The Food and Drug Administration gave its approval for emergency use authorization for 12-to-15-year-olds earlier this week.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is encouraging families to get themselves and their children vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Starting tomorrow, more Kentuckians will have the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and further protect themselves and those around them from this dangerous virus,” said Beshear. “We’ve seen new COVID-19 cases decline as more and more vaccines have been administered. Now, many Kentucky children and young teens have a chance to roll up their sleeves and become heroes for their communities by receiving their shot of hope.”

For now, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one of the three vaccines approved for emergency use authorization available to those between the ages of 12 and 17. The governor and state health officials say those in that age group must have consent from a parent or legal guardian to be administered the vaccine.

A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation says approximately 231,000 Kentuckians, or roughly 5% of the state’s total population, are between the ages of 12 and 15 are in the 12-15 age group, which makes up roughly 5% of the state’s total population.

Dr. Steven Stack, the commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, says vaccine trials have proven the Pfizer vaccine is “very highly effective at preventing COVID-19 cases in 12-to-15-year-olds.” While children are less likely to develop a severe illness from the virus, Stack encourages families to get their eligible kids vaccinated to prevent potentially spreading the virus to family members and others who are among more vulnerable groups.

The commissioner said a growing proportion of reported cases have been seen among children, especially in clusters among teenagers in schools and on sports teams. He also says those who are fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine after being exposed to the virus.

“COVID-19 vaccines are readily available and we are shifting to focus on delivering vaccines as close to individuals as possible to provide easy access for Kentuckians in their communities,” said Dr. Stack. “Over the next couple of weeks, we will have an added focus on broadening the distribution of Pfizer to vaccination sites such as primary care and pediatric offices.”

During Monday’s semi-daily COVID-19 briefing, Stack said the state would be transitioning to a federal website – vaccines.gov – which will allow Kentuckians to search for vaccination sites near them. They will also be able to filter by the brand of vaccine they would prefer to take.

Kentuckians who have questions regarding the vaccine can call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 855-598-2246, or health officials say Kentuckians who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can contact TTY 855-326-4654.

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