Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Vermont, 12-15-2020

A vial of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is shown before being processed and administered to staff at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

MONTPELIER — Vaccination registration opened to Vermonters ages 12 to 15 on Thursday morning, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s action late Wednesday authorizing use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for this age group.

The Food & Drug Administration authorized this emergency use of the vaccine earlier this week. On Wednesday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices overwhelmingly recommended, and the CDC approved, this use of the vaccine, based on clinical trial data that found it to be safe and effective.

“With final approval now given to begin vaccinations for those 12 to 15 years old with the Pfizer vaccine, Vermont is ready,” said Gov. Phil Scott in a statement Wednesday. “As early as tomorrow, Vermonters in this new age band can sign up and begin receiving their shots. My team has worked in partnership with dozens of school districts and other partners to make this as easy and accessible as possible. The more Vermonters who step up and get vaccinated, the faster we’ll be able to get back to doing more of the things we’ve missed over the past months.”

Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, said the vaccine has now passed the same safety benchmarks for this younger age group as it did for aged 16 and older.

“This gives me a lot of confidence that we can protect our 12 to 15-year-olds from COVID-19, keeping them safe and healthy,” Levine said. “The pandemic has had a significant, and in some ways, hidden impact on young Vermonters — physically, mentally and emotionally. I am very glad we can now focus our vaccination efforts on protecting our older children, and moving Vermont forward to where they can again enjoy life as adolescents.”

Parental/caregiver consent is required for vaccination of this age group. Consent can be given as part of the online registration process or at a clinic in person.

The Health Department is working in partnership with the Agency of Education to offer school-based clinics with daytime and evening hours. These clinics will be updated in the vaccine registration system as soon as they are scheduled, and a listing can be found at the Agency of Education’s website. During a press conference Tuesday, Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said roughly 40 public schools are set to host vaccine clinics.

Making an appointment is the best way to guarantee a vaccine, but walk-in opportunities are also available and can be found on our website healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine. Anyone under 18 should be sure to only choose locations that offer the Pfizer vaccine. Smith said the state requested more than 4,000 additional Pfizer doses for the coming week in anticipation of the CDC announcement.

Certain pharmacies, including CVS and Kinney Drugs, are also offering the Pfizer vaccine to this age group, with some having appointments or walk-in opportunities available right away.

Levine added that children may experience some of the same common side effects as other young adults, such as pain at the injection site, fever, chills, or tiredness, but these should go away in a few days.

“Be assured these are normal signs that the body is building up protection against COVID-19,” Levine said. “Parents and caregivers can help by talking to their kids about what to expect ahead of time, and can talk to their pediatrician if they have questions.”

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