St. Louis Parents Weigh Vaccinating Young Teens Following Federal Approval
Parents, hospitals and schools in the St. Louis area are preparing to vaccinate teenagers and young teenagers against the coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday afternoon approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in 12 to 15 year olds. Schools and hospitals have already started making appointments for parents to have their children vaccinated.
Many parents in the St. Louis area were excited about planning the shoots.
“We’re just so grateful that … science made this available for us,” said Kim Linhares, a parent of Kirkwood, who set weekend vaccination dates for her 12- and 15-year-olds.
The Pfizer vaccine was approved for adolescents aged 16 and over.
The vaccinations will come just in time for her son to enjoy the summer vacation, Linhares said.
“He has the opportunity to go to the boy scout camp. He has the option to go to the music camp before we are really on the fence and he’s definitely not feeling well, ”she said. “Once he is fully vaccinated, he can do fun summer activities on a regular basis.”
Peter Seay, whose son Mason is attending Parkway West High School, hopes the vaccines will help the children return to normal social life after a challenging year.
“He really didn’t want to be responsible for everyone else getting sick,” said Seay of his son, who will be 15 years old in a few weeks. “So he really … cut off a whole social circle.”
He added, “I think it may be a very dangerous thing for social emotional development.”
Sarah Pitt Kaplan, who has a 13-year-old son at Kirkwood Schools, said she “jumped up and down” with excitement about the vaccine.
“My father is a doctor. My mother is a nurse, I grew up in a medical family, ”she said. “We followed it all very closely. And we’re very excited. “
The nearby Ladue school district has already planned a clinic for Friday. Other districts measure parent interest and plan clinics.
Not all parents are likely to be this excited, said Hilary Babcock, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University and BJC HealthCare.
“These children essentially need to be brought in and approved by their parents,” she said. “So there is a reasonable chance it will go pretty well with our adult vaccinations, as the adults who have been vaccinated will likely want their children to be vaccinated, and adults who have been worried or concerned about the vaccine their children may have the same concerns and worries. “
Almost half of Missourians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but the number of people vaccinated daily has decreased in recent weeks.
Missouri has more than 300,000 12 to 15 year olds who make up about 5% of the state’s population.
Although the group makes up a relatively small fraction of the state’s total population, Babcock believes that expanding eligibility will make a difference in tackling the pandemic. Many young people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past few months, she said, and any person who gets a vaccine is helping keep hospital stays and new case numbers down.
“Minimizing the risk of everyone in your household getting this infection is protecting everyone in your household,” she said.
At least one regional hospital, Mercy Health, began vaccinating young teenagers on Tuesday after the federal nutrition and pharmaceuticals agency approved Pfizer to use the emergency vaccine in the age group.
Babcock said BJC expects to start vaccinating teenagers first Thursday morning.
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