Following new recommendations from the federal government, the Orange County Department of Health and UNC Health began offering the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 12-15 on Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended wider use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, following approval by the Food and Drug Administration to extend the authorization of use of vaccine emergency two days before.
Pfizer is the only coronavirus vaccine approved for children under 18 years of age. North Carolina currently has about 800,000 first and second doses of Pfizer.
As a result of this news, the Orange County Department of Health said a significant allocation of the Pfizer vaccine is now available to all emerging and emerging county clinics, which are held Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people over 12 years of age. This means that ALL 12 years or older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination is free and convenient: https://t.co/Bsmov7jsNw pic.twitter.com/PywShPtjnp
– Orange County Health (@OrangeHealthNC), May 13, 2021
UNC Health officials said there is a high demand for vaccines for 12- to 15-year-olds in the Chapel Hill community. On Thursday, at the Center on Friday, approximately 700 first-dose consultations were filled in record time, most of which were from the newly eligible age group. Future vaccines against Pfizer will continue to be offered by appointment or consultation at eligible clinics.
Dr. Michael Smith is a pediatrician and medical director of the Duke Children’s Health Center’s Infectious Diseases Clinic. He is also a researcher in the study involved in the recent pediatric trials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
“There are almost 2,300 children, and that’s a 50-50 distribution at trial,” Smith said. “Half of these children received a placebo, or some kind of fictitious injection of saline or salt water, and the other 50 percent received the vaccine. So they are about just over 1,000 in each group. Of those, we signed up for just over 100 here at Duke. ”
Smith said he recommends anyone 12 years of age or older get vaccinated, especially after seeing the results of tests recently published by Pfizer.
“When you look at his press release (Pfizer), the important thing to keep in mind is that of the children in the trial who finally had a COVID infection, they were all from the placebo group and none from the vaccine group.” Smith said. “Therefore, if you received the vaccine in this trial, you will not get COVID. This translates into a vaccine that is 100% effective.”
The most common temporary reactions among adolescents were pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches, fever, and joint pain. These usually lasted between one and three days and were similar to those reported in participants in clinical trials aged 16 years or older.
Experts say between 70 and 85 percent of the U.S. population needs to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to get herd immunity. With children representing a significant portion of the population, Smith said these new federal recommendations are a step in the right direction.
In North Carolina, 51% of those over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. When children are taken into account, the percentage drops to 40 percent.
“As a parent and pediatrician, I am delighted that COVID does not tend to cause serious illness in children as in adults,” Smith said. “But let’s be clear, this affects children. Certainly, some children are hospitalized. Certainly some children die for it. Therefore, the risk is not zero. And I think all of us, whether parents, grandparents or doctors, can clearly see the impact this pandemic has had on children. So everything we can do to reduce the incidence of disease and the transmission of disease in children, to reopen society to the way it was pre-pandemic, I think is useful. “
The Chatham County Health Department also offers the Pfizer vaccine to residents 12 years of age or older.
Find a North Carolina provider to get the COVID vaccine here.
Main photo courtesy of Curtis Compton via AP.
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