Delaware Valley health officials are acting quickly on the CDC’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 and older. They say they’re ready to offer the shots to this new age group.
On Thursday, Delaware County announced it will be offering walk-in and drive-thru Pfizer vaccinations to children ages 12 to 15, no appointment necessary. Dates and times will be released soon. No insurance cards or IDs are needed for COVID-19 vaccinations in Delaware County.
“The COVID-19 vaccine continues to prove itself as the greatest weapon that we have in fighting this virus, so we welcome the news that the FDA has expanded the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine to include those age 12 to 15,” Jeanne Franklin, director of the Chester County Health Department, said in a press release. Chester County has been overseeing Delaware County’s vaccination efforts because Delco does not yet have its own health department.
The Chester County Health Department announced Wednesday that walk-ins and appointments are available to children in this age group as well beginning May 13. The Pfizer vaccine is available at local pharmacies, pediatrician offices, and health department-run vaccination sites including the Exton Square Mall and Longwood Gardens (a drive-thru). The latter two sites also administer the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines.
“Chester County has approximately 20,000 12 to 15-year-olds. We cannot stress enough the great impact that the vaccine is having in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and strongly encourage parents and guardians to have those 12 and over vaccinated quickly,” Franklin said.
The Montgomery County Office of Public Health announced May 11 the Pfizer vaccine is now available to adolescents there. Children under 18 must have a parent or guardian accompanying them to receive the vaccine. Montco is also offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at certain clinics to adults. Walk-ins are available and clinics have evening and weekend hours to allow children and adults the opportunity to receive the vaccine outside of school and work hours.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, said the county is planning a town hall specifically for parents about vaccinating adolescents, with a date yet to be decided. Demand has been high among the younger age group, with about 300 appointments made for 12 to 15-year-olds on May 11 alone.
“Effective Friday, May 14, 2021, Montgomery County Office of Public Health is not requiring masking or face covering while individuals are participating in high exertion outdoor activities such as sports or exercising,” Arkoosh also announced during the press conference.
Bucks County’s Health Department also supports opening vaccinations to 12 to 15-year-olds. In a May 10 press release, Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department said, “We’re very excited about Pfizer being approved for everyone age 12 and up. I highly recommend that everyone newly eligible from 12 to 15 get the vaccine as soon as possible.”
The Pfizer vaccine is available at all five Bucks County mass vaccination sites.
The Philadelphia Department of Health, too, recommends that all 12 years old or older get the vaccine as soon as possible. City-run sites require a parent or guardian to accompany the child and they must bring documented proof of the child’s age including photos of their birth certificate, passports, insurance cards, or copies of health forms.
The CDC’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents stemmed from clinical trials involving 2,260 participants. The trials saw 95 percent effectiveness among children ages 12 to 15. Adolescents with no health risks are advised to wait 15 minutes after administration, the same amount of time recommended to adults, in case of any side effects. As minors, children in this age range require parental consent which is up to the discretion of parents and guardians.
Darla Clarke-Clayton, a West Chester parent of 13 and 17-year olds, said she plans on letting her 13-year-old get the vaccine once they receive the go-ahead from their physician because of some medical issues.
“Hopefully, they will give us the thumbs up,” she stated.