Vaccinations for 12-15 year olds roll out across the Mid-South

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In a small group of states, including Arkansas, vaccinations have started in those 12 to 15 years old.

The FDA gave the Pfizer vaccine emergency use authorization on Monday.

Now, a CDC board is also recommending the vaccine in that age group.

After about four hours of reviewing trial findings, listening to public comment, and weighing the risk and benefits, the CDC Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices voted to recommend the use of the Pfizer vaccine in people 12 to 15 years old on Wednesday.

“The numbers are very impressive, very safe,” Baptist Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld said.

The board was presented with findings that show an efficacy rate of 100 percent in people 12 to 15.

It also looked at possible mindsets of parents.

About 20 million more people in the U.S. are now eligible for the vaccine with this recommendation and prior emergency approval by the FDA.

A presentation to the board Wednesday showed men and older sets of parents are more likely to choose to get their children vaccinated than women and younger parents.

Similar adverse effects were reported in the adolescent group compared to the adult group like headaches, fatigue and gastrointestinal issues.

Dr. Threlkeld said the benefits outweigh the risks.

“When you look at summer camps, when you look at school in the fall, those issues will compel to look at it to make their kids safe,” Threlkeld said.

Soon after the CDC recommendation, the Tennessee Department of Health approved local health departments to start vaccinating people in that age group starting on Friday.

“We have been anticipating this decision for several weeks, and I am thrilled we can begin offering the Pfizer vaccine to children in this age group,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “As a mother and a pediatrician, I believe this vaccine to be safe and effective for children and I hope other parents across the state are relieved to learn this option is available. Our local health departments have been working ahead in preparation for this decision, and vaccine supply is available.”

A parent or guardian must be with the minor during the vaccine administration.

WMC Action News 5 asked the City of Memphis if it will start vaccinating those in that age group on Friday or if there will be a different timeline.

A city spokesperson is looking into that question for us.

Arkansas started allowing administration after Monday’s FDA emergency use authorization, and Mississippi health officials plan to release information Thursday about adolescent vaccinations.

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