Decisions in parents’ hands as KS gives greenlight to vaccinate kids as young as 12 against COVID-19

Published: May. 12, 2021 at 9:54 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The state of Kansas on Wednesday gave the green light to vaccinate kids in the 12-to-15-year-old age group. The announcement from Kansas Governor Laura Kelly follows the CDC sighing off on authorizing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for that age group. Now, the question becomes, how many parents will take their gets to get vaccinated?

Much like we’ve seen over the past few months, there are people excited to get vaccinated, others who are cautiously waiting and some not wanting the shot at all. In Sedgwick County, we’re waiting for word on when they will make the vaccine available to the latest group. When that does happen, the rollout will look a little different.

There are an estimated 17 million people in the U.S. who fall in the 12-15-year-old age range. Pfizer vaccine trials of this group found the vaccine to be 100 percent effective, with mild side effects. Sedgwick County said parents do need to provide permission for kids younger than 18 to get the vaccine. Also, the strategy to vaccinate adolescents will look different than asking people to come to the mass vaccination site at Wichita’s former central library location downtown.

“Eighty five percent of the parents, their first choice was to have their child vaccinated at their family physician or pediatrician’s office,” said Sedgwick County Health Director Adrienne Byrne.

When it comes to making a decision for her oldest to get the vaccine, Wichita mother of four, April Calaway, said one key factor rises above the rest: safety.

“It looks like safety has been pretty well proven and it’s going to be safety versus how sick COVID makes you,” Calaway said.

Data from vaccine trials for children younger than 12 isn’t expected until later this year. With that, Calaway said she’s taking a more cautious approach with her younger children.

“...I don’t feel like there’s any blatant safety concerns, but I definitely do want to wait and see,” she said.

A local pediatric infectious disease doctor told Eyewitness News the vaccine offers another layer of protection and heading into the summer months with vacations, different camps and sports, this allows for greater mobility, interaction and less need for kids to quarantine if they’re exposed to COVID-19.

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