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MSDH announces support of COVID immunization effort for 12-15 year olds

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 9:04 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - There are now more than 160,000 Mississippians who are newly eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The website for scheduling appointments at the state-run vaccines now allows appointments for those as young as 12. You can also check with your local pediatrician, pharmacy or clinic. But remember, it is a two-dose vaccine and your child will need to go back three weeks later for dose two.

After a full school year of quarantining and COVID-precautions, there’s a new tool in preventing spread of the virus in children as young as 12.

“We’re excited to announce our support for immunization efforts for kids 12 through 15,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “We know that we’ve had thousands and thousands of infections in this age group. And some young folks do die.”

Dr. Dobbs notes that the Pfizer vaccine data has shown it’s even more effective in this age group than adults... in fact, 100% effective.

A group of Mississippi doctors sending an open letter this week encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated.

Children can get sick from COVID, and some get very sick. Nearly 14,000 children were hospitalized due to COVID-19...

Posted by Mississippi Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics on Wednesday, May 12, 2021

“It really is going to help our children who get vaccinated to have a normal summer and a normal school year this fall,” explained Dr. Anita Henderson, President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “If kids are fully vaccinated and are exposed to a classmate or a teammate who may have tested positive for coronavirus, the child who is vaccinated won’t have to quarantine. The child who is vaccinated will be protected.”

But when the Department of Health released its vaccine confidence survey earlier this month, it showed just more than half, 52.2 percent, of Mississippi parents plan to vaccinate their children.

MaryJo Perry is President of Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights and sent this statement regarding thoughts on the eligibility opening up to 12 through 15 year olds.

“Our primary concern is that never in history have we given a non-FDA approved medication to an untested population,” stated Perry. “There were no children under the age of 18 in any of the COVID-19 vaccine trials. Adverse event data from children getting this vaccine will be used to determine if the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for minors. Further, children have a COVID-19 survival rate of 99.997%. Parents deserve to be aware of these facts as we continue to advocate for their informed voluntary consent.”

Dr. Dobbs was asked Thursday whether the state planned to make vaccines a requirement for students enrolled in public school next year.

“There’s no indication we have to pursue that path. Certainly we’ll continue to monitor the situation,” noted Dobbs. “The best thing right now is for folks to go ahead and get it done.”

Parents will need to accompany their children to get the vaccine and will need to sign a consent form.

In addition to encouraging the vaccines, the Department of Health is also announcing a new initiative that they’re hopeful will limit transmission in schools. They’ll now offer to send kits for schools to do voluntary COVID-19 testing on a weekly basis.

The goal is to limit asymptomatic spread.

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