Valley counties prepare to administer Pfizer vaccine to kids 12 and older

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Teens and adolescents across the country will soon have the option to roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 shot.

The FDA expanded emergency use authorization for Pfizer vaccines to include people ages 12 to 15.

"It was 100% effective which means that all of the adolescents who got the vaccine were completely protected and none of them got sick as opposed to the placebo group," says Dr. Haily Nelson, a complex care pediatrician at Valley Children's Hospital.

The Pfizer vaccine now needs approval from a CDC advisory committee and the western state's safety review group.

That could happen as soon as Tuesday.

RELATED: FDA grants emergency use authorization for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12-15

Dr. Nelson says to expect side effects similar to those in adults - a sore arm, headache, fatigue, fever.

"Talk to your child ahead of time. Let them know, 'Hey you might feel crummy'. And then you rent a movie, let them lay on the couch and then next day they feel better."

Clinics are now underway at the Merced Union High School District to vaccinate students as young as 16, mostly seniors and juniors.

Access will be expanded to freshmen and sophomores as soon as this week.

"We have a vaccine clinic scheduled on Thursday at Livingston High and if it has been approved, then we hope to start vaccinated 12- to 15-year-olds on Thursday," says Cristi Johnson with the district.

District officials say the more students who are vaccinated, the easier it will be to keep kids in class.

"If you are identified as a close contact during our contact tracing when we do have a positive case, you won't be required to quarantine if you are fully vaccinated. You can stay at school," she says.

In Mariposa County, there are plenty of Pfizer vaccines on hand.

The next county clinic is slated for Friday and pending CDC approval, the age limit at the vaccine site at the county fairgrounds could drop to 12 years old.

"So just as kids are getting out of school we will be more than happy to welcome them at our vaccination clinic," says Mariposa County health officer Eric Sergienko.

Health officials say appointments will likely open up to 12- to 15-year-olds on the MyTurn website after CDC approval is granted.
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