Approximately 14,000 children between the ages of 12-15 in Missouri have gotten the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since it was approved for that age group.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded its emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine to include the younger age bracket on May 10. Since then, about 14,000 adolescents have initiated vaccination, according to Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).
DHSS is also working toward making data regarding that age group available on its COVID-19 dashboard. More than 4.4 million vaccines overall have been given in Missouri thus far, including first and second doses. And 41 percent of Missourians have initiated the vaccination process.
“How do we help our community stay safe and get well from COVID and all of the other impacts COVID has had on our lives? [The vaccine] is the most effective strategy to get back to what we love,” Dr. Kristin Sohl, president of the Missouri chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said. “In general, it’s absolutely something I recommend.”
While schools are not able to enroll as COVID-19 providers — meaning they cannot access vaccine ordering and Missouri’s immunization database — they can partner with approved vaccinators to administer doses on campus. Schools could team up with a local public health department of pharmacy and use eligible school nurses to administer vaccines, Cox said.
Sohl called using schools to get the vaccine out a “very effective public health strategy,” noting it’s a way to remove barriers some students might and their parents could face in obtaining the vaccine.
“When we look at the history of vaccines and the history of how vaccines have really changed our communities’ exposure to deadly diseases, the vaccine is really the most effective way to do that — even with little kids,” Sohl said. “We know that vaccines work, and we know that they’re safe.”
Nearly 19 percent of Missourians between the ages of 15-24 have completed the vaccination process. In comparison, about 70 percent of those between 75-84 have completed vaccinations.
Those who receive the Pfizer vaccine may experience mild to moderate side effects such as fatigue, fever, or soreness at the injection site, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.