Health Care

Vaccine registration opening Thursday morning for 12- to 15-year-old Vermonters

pharmacist filling syringe from vial
Steven Simpson, the supervising pharmacist at Kinney Drugs in Barre, prepares a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. File photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

Children between ages of 12 and 15 are eligible to register for the Pfizer vaccine or attend a walk-in vaccination clinic starting Thursday morning, the Vermont Department of Health announced Wednesday.

That age group is the latest to be added to the state’s vaccination efforts, which until now had targeted people 16 and older. Pfizer ran clinical trials on 12- to 15-year-olds this spring and recently got emergency use authorization from the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Online registration will open at 8:15 a.m. on Thursday, according to the Department of Health.

The vaccine expansion cleared its final hurdle Wednesday, when a federal vaccine advisory committee from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its approval for the vaccine’s use for that age group.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine said in a news release that the expanded eligibility for kids ages 12 and up gives him “a lot of confidence” that the state can keep youngsters safe and healthy.

“The pandemic has had a significant, and in some ways, hidden impact on young Vermonters – physically, mentally and emotionally,” Levine said. “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.”

Children in that age group will need their parents’ or guardians’ permission to receive the vaccine, state health department officials have said in the past. Parents can make an account on the health department website on behalf of their child, or add them as a dependent on a parent’s account.

Parents can make an account in advance of the eligibility opening up. Appointments are also available via separate websites for Kinney Drugs, CVS, Walgreens, Northfield Pharmacy, or UVMMC Outpatient Pharmacies. Links to those pharmacies are available on the health department website.

Children in that age group can also visit any walk-in clinics or events, including pharmacies that now offer walk-in vaccinations. However, it’s best to make sure that clinic is offering the Pfizer vaccine, since it is the only one 12- to 15-year-olds can receive.

State officials said Tuesday that school-based clinics have been planned to better reach Vermont children. Those clinics will be open to the public as well, so anyone can receive a vaccination there.

The health department has virtual events planned with local pediatricians via Zoom to discuss the vaccine for children and answer any questions.

Pfizer and Moderna have ongoing clinical trials for vaccines made for children younger than 12. It’s unclear at this point when the vaccine will become available to them.

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Erin Petenko

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