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Local health departments and pediatricians prepare for vaccination eligibility expansion

12 to 15-year-olds expected to be eligible next week
Posted at 6:26 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 18:20:22-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As early as next week, the FDA is expected to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds.

Local health departments and pediatricians are preparing for the changes.

"It's really logistically challenging because of the type of the vaccine that Pfizer is," Douglas County Health Department senior epidemiologist Dr. Anne O'Keefe said.

O'Keefe is leading the organization of the expanded age group in Douglas County and says one of the challenges will be convincing parents to go to the county clinics. The health department understands parents will have a lot of questions and will go to pediatricians for answers. The health department has reached out to pediatric offices to help educate parents and distribute vaccine.

"We have our established locations that are able to vaccinate kids but we know that a lot of parents would like to talk to their own doctor," O'Keefe said.

The challenge with vaccinating in-office is that not many pediatricians have ultra-cold freezers required for the Pfizer vaccine.

"We have to be a little creative on how we can distribute this vaccine, but we're working on getting all that put together," Children's Physicians pediatrician Dr. Melissa St. Germain said.

The Pfizer vaccine was authorized for emergency use five months ago for those 16 and older. Back in March, the company announced promising results of their studies involving 12 to 15-year-olds, saying the vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing illness in that age group.

"What they are going to do is look at all of the data from the Pfizer vaccine trials that have been going on for the last several months and ensure that there are no differences between giving this to 12 to 15-years-olds versus giving it to 16 and up," St. Germain said.

St. Germain is confident the FDA will approve the extension and is ready to vaccinate teens so they're safe at summer camps and so they're safe in school.

"I really would love to see as many kids vaccinated before we go back to school as we can because I think that'll really make an impact in their learning experience next year," she said.

Children's Hospital is also participating in the Pfizer trial for those six months to 11-years-old. Pfizer is expected to seek authorization for that age group this fall.

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