Triangle vaccine providers ready to vaccinate kids 12-15 years old when FDA gives the go-ahead

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — This time next week, we could see the Pfizer vaccine available to children as young as 12.

Canada authorized the shots for anyone 12 and older, and the U.S. is expected to do the same within the next week.

Kids rarely look forward to shots, but for Sophie Holland, 12, a COVID-19 vaccine means a lot more than a needle stick.

“Every kid I talk to is super excited about getting the vaccine,” said Holland. “We all just want to go back to a normal lifestyle, a normal school, and we know that getting the vaccine is a huge step closer to that.”

Thanks to Holland and other kids who participated in clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine will likely be available soon for people as young as 12.

Dr. Thomas Holland, Sophie’s dad, and an infectious disease specialist at Duke say it’s important to get this age group vaccinated.

“They’re kids, and they’re in school, and they’re in sports and they’re going to be social,” he said. “It’s going to be a huge step to have something to prevent transmission.”

Many vaccine providers are preparing to vaccinate 12-15 year-olds as soon as federal health officials give the green light.

“We can start immediately; we’re ready,” said Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at UNC.

Wohl says UNC clinics expect significant demand from this age group, especially in families where everyone is vaccinated except those younger than 16.

“Families who want to see everyone vaccinated, especially if they want to plan trips this summer. They want to see grandparents. I think there’s going to be a big demand initially.”

The Wake County Health Department expects to have plans finalized to vaccinate 12-15-year-olds within 24-48 hours of getting federal guidance. A county spokesperson says the county has reached out to pediatric providers and will also provide vaccines to 12-15 year-olds at county clinics.

Amanda Edwards, a physician assistant specializing in critical care medicine at WakeMed, says parents have been asking when the vaccine will be available to kids younger than 16.

“There are a lot of individuals who want to get back to sports, back to school activities,” she noted.

Although they don’t know for sure if and when the FDA will authorize the Pfizer vaccine for 12-15-year-olds, WakeMed plans to make sure young people feel comfortable when they get their vaccine.

“We’re having a little bit more time for the appointment, just to be able to counsel, to offer support,” Edwards said. “Let us know if you’re nervous.”

Sophie Holland sees no reason to worry about the shot. Although half of the trial participants received a placebo, symptoms after her second dose make her pretty sure she got the real thing.

“I would say the side effects are just like any common cold I’ve ever had. They’re not bad at all,” she said. “I encourage every kid to try and get it the best they can.”

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