OMAHA, Neb. — The FDA has approved the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children 12 to 15-years-old. After a CDC review and sign-off from the state's chief medical officer, teenagers will be eligible for the vaccine. Local health departments estimate that eligibility will begin this Thursday or Friday.
"I'm so glad we're finally at this point where we're able to offer it," said Children's Physicians pediatrician, Dr. Melissa St. Germain.
St. Germain is working with the Douglas County Health Department on ways the vaccine can be distributed at Children's Physicians locations via drive-thru.
“We have a plan in place to get vaccine delivered to us so we can start giving it to our patients," she said.
The expected drive-thrus should be up and running by next Wednesday at the Mission Village and West Village Point locations and then grow to include more clinics.
"I'm hopeful that within the next couple days we'll be able to start giving vaccine," St. Germain said.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) says it's also ready for about 100,000 Nebraskans between the ages of 12 and 15 to be added to the vaccine poll.
NDHHS said in a statement, "The Department, local health departments and other vaccine providers in the state’s network stand ready to quickly implement this change. The systems that have been put into place already serve as a solid framework for implementation."
Before the vaccinations of this age group can begin, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a subdivision of the CDC, has to meet to finalize the decision. That meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.
"I think this is all very reassuring for families that it's not just the manufacturer and it's not just a couple of people looking at this data. There are a lot of eyes on this data," St. Germain said.
With the end of the school year in sight, the FDA decision helps create a stress-free summer and a more normal school year come next fall.
"It's going to help eliminate any remaining question marks that folks have going into the next school year," said Millard Education Association President Tim Royers.
Most high schoolers can get vaccinated and most middle schoolers will soon have the same opportunity.
Pfizer is expected to apply for Emergency Use Authorization of their vaccine for those 6 months to 11-years-old by this fall.