BURLINGTON, Vt. (WFFF) – COVID-19 vaccination registration will open to Vermonters ages 12 to 15 at 8:15 a.m. Thursday.
Parents or caregivers can schedule appointments on the Vermont Department of Health website. The health department is also working with the Agency of Education to offer school-based clinics with daytime and evening hours, and new additions will be added to a listing on the agency website.
The FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in the 12 to 15 age group earlier this week, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices followed suit on Wednesday.
Ahead of registration, a local health expert helped answer some common questions about use of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents.
Dr. Benjamin Lee is a pediatric infectious disease expert at UVM Medical Center and said the CDC’s ruling follows months of careful and rigorous studies. In a trial of over 2,000 adolescents, the Pfizer vaccine was found to be 100% effective at preventing COVID-19. The reported side effects were the same ones seen in adults, such as nausea, fatigue and muscle aches.
“Every indication that we have tells us that this vaccine behaves in 12 to 15-year-olds in the exact same way that it does for those who are over 16,” Dr. Lee said.
Given that otherwise healthy kids are less likely to experience severe illness from COVID-19, some may wonder why their son or daughter should get vaccinated. Dr. Lee offered two reasons – the first being the very real possibility of ‘long-haul COVID’, or symptoms that last well beyond initial diagnosis.
“Even if that’s not the same as having a child critically ill in the hospital, I think in terms of quality of life and long-term effects, we are seeing this is happening with our children.”
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine has offered the same reminder at multiple COVID-19 briefings, even sharing the story of a woman who lost her taste and sense of smell indefinitely after a COVID-19 diagnosis to warn Vermonters about the less-discussed impacts of the virus.
Dr. Lee also said the impact of this last year on adolescents is reason to get vaccinated. All the missed interactions, hours of screen time and isolation, and now, an opportunity to reclaim what was taken away.
“You know, for the first time, the teens now have a way they can actually do something active and take their lives back,” Dr. Lee said. “We shouldn’t underestimate how much good it will do.”
Anyone looking for a walk-in appointment to get vaccinated should visit the Department of Health website, or stay up to date via social media to hear about walk-in availabilities or other opportunities.
If you need assistance, you can call (855) 722-7878. Parental or caregiver consent is required for vaccination of this age group, and consent can be given as part of the online registration process or at a clinic in person.