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Health Watch: COVID-19 vaccination appointments available in Alaska for kids 12 - 15

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 4:08 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this week for use in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. However before kids in this age range could receive vaccinations, this decision by the FDA needed to be reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin discussed this in a Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 ECHO Zoom conference saying, “Vaccines for youth. Great news! And just about an hour ago, little less than an hour ago, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved the use and recommended the use of the Pfizer mRNA for this age group.”

As of today, May 12th, parents can schedule vaccination appointments for kids in this age bracket in clinics across the state. The other two available vaccines - Moderna and Johnson & Johnson - are still only authorized for people age 18 or older.

“Again vaccines are free and Alaska has enough doses to start vaccinating immediately. So this is a huge step forward toward protecting our children against COVID-19, not only serious cases like hospitalization and death, but also long term effects of COVID,” said Dr. McLaughlin.

There is currently no new information on when children younger than 12 will be eligible for vaccination. According to the Department of Health and Social Services the wait for further age limit reduction could be a few more months.

“Every week we’re just seeing more and more articles about the long term consequences of COVID infection - even mild infection, and even asymptomatic infection. So we really want to protect people against those by getting people vaccinated,” said Dr. McLaughlin.

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