(WETM) – Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, signed off on Pfizer’s application for emergency use authorization for children as young as 12 years old.
Local departments of health are adjusting their vaccination clinics and vaccine orders to accommodate this new eligibility group. Next week, Steuben County is holding a vaccination clinic at Jasper-Troupsburg Junior-Senior High School
“For the first time ever, we are offering two vaccines on Monday evening, so individuals can choose between Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson. You can walk in and do not have to pre-register,” Steuben County Public Health Director Darlene Smith added.
Steuben County is holding vaccination clinics in the evening at local schools to reach working parents and their children. A parent must be present or call in to consent for their child.
Experts say the vaccines are safe and effective for the nearly 17 million teens who are eligible. According to Pfizer’s data, the vaccine is 100 percent effective at preventing severe disease among kids.
“It will protect them in a way that if they’re exposed, they won’t have to be quarantined,” Dr. Philip Heavner, chief of pediatrics at Guthrie, said.
On Monday, parents showed up to the Steuben County Health clinic at Hornell High School, asking if they could get their kids vaccinated on the spot. They had to wait until Wednesday when both the CDC and New York State signed off.
“I think that’s our best method to try to capture as many interested parents with their adolescence as possible,” Smith continued.
Vaccine demand is low in the Twin Tiers compared to the state average. Health Departments are finding new ways to reach the community.
“We are intentionally pivoting away from the mass vaccination clinics because the demand just simply is not there,” Smith said.
For doctors and health officials, this authorization is a sign of hope, moving toward normalcy after a year of difficulty.
“These kids are back to in-school education…and they want to stay back. It will certainly contribute to us getting back to what we would consider our normal lives,” Dr. Heavner concluded.