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Sedgwick County prepared to begin vaccinating 12-15-year-olds

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Sedgwick County Health Department this week said that when the FDA authorization comes down to extend COVID-19 vaccinations to 12-to-15-year-olds, it will be ready to administer shots to the newest-eligible age group.

With fewer adults coming to get a vaccine, Sedgwick County said it has the staff dedicated to vaccinating the younger group when they become eligible.

With the FDA expected to make that official next week, Wichita pediatrician Dr. Paul Teran, M.D. with KU School of Medicine-Wichita and Wesley Children’s Hospital, said he and other pediatricians have been watching this effort closely.

With the summertime used by parents to get their children in for checkups and up-to-date on vaccinations, that would be the perfect time to talk with your children’s primary care provider to get questions answered about the vaccine, said Dr. Teran.

Trial data released by Pfizer in March shows that in a vaccine trial of 2,260 kids, the vaccine proved to be 100 percent effective in producing an antibody response without severe adverse side effects.

“It’s amazing.” Dr. Teran said, “There’s a lot of optimism knowing that kids produce a great vaccine response and we didn’t see the adverse effects in that initial trial.”

Dr. Teran said while most children don’t face severe illness from COVID-19, there are some who do.

“Although most kids have a mild illness, we have seen kids with severe illness,” Dr. Teran said. “We’ve seen kids with the long-COVID symptoms that last for many months and they’re still facing some of the difficulties from it.”

Kids can also spread the virus to adults and that is concerning if people are immunocompromised.

“They’re around parents, they’re around grandparents. They could be around great-grandparents and whether or not they’re vaccinated, they [kids] need to be vaccinated so they can’t pass it on.” Sedgwick County Health Department Director Adrienne Bryne said, “We know that the vaccines are very effective, however, our own immune systems can affect the effectiveness.”

As families look toward summer vacations and activities, Sedgwick County Health Department Director Adrienne Bryne said the vaccine provides the promise of a healthier summer.

“Kids throughout Wichita, throughout Kansas, throughout the nation have undergone a lot through COVID-19 and it’s great to be able to find an even better way to protect them,” said Dr. Teran.

Currently, it’s recommended that people don’t get any other vaccines two weeks before getting the COVID-19 vaccine in order to monitor for adverse effects. Dr. Teran said when the FDA makes 12-to-15-year-olds eligible, he is going to be watching if that waiting period is going to be changed for kids.

“If the FDA or CDC has different recommendations for kids because that waiting period mostly to see if there are any adverse side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine and if you can get other vaccines with the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Teran.

Bryne said although the FDA approval for younger teens is coming down a little more than a week later than previously expected, it’s a welcome addition that health officials hope will lead to a significant jump in vaccinations countywide.

“We thought it might be here at the end of April, so we’re glad that it’s coming at the beginning at the beginning of May,” Bryne said. “What that means is that we can get more people vaccinated.”

The county is working to help educate parents and kids about the vaccine by working with schools.

“We have already been going into schools where the superintendents and principals are comfortable with us going in and we go in either during the day and talking with the kids or hang posters up and be there if anyone has questions.” Byrne said, “We also are doing some evening ones so that the parents can be there as well and we answer questions. That’s the type of thing we’ve also been doing. That’s the outreach we’ve been doing in the preparation of 12 to 15-year-olds being able to be vaccinated.”

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