Teens get their turn – Clinic offers Pfizer vaccine to those 12-18

For a whole year, their only protection was to wear a mask and keep their distance, and for several months, it wasn’t safe for them to go to school. But now that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for kids as young as 12, Kentucky teens by the thousands are rolling up their sleeves to get their shots.

On Thursday, the Clark County Health Department offered its first Pfizer clinic for minors in cooperation with Clark Regional Medical Center.

“We have worked with all the schools to get vaccinations to kids 12-18 years old,” Becky Kissick, the county’s public health director, said.

The vaccinations were given after school, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the hospital.

Kissick said that 308 had pre-registered for the shots.

Inside Clark Clinic, reactions were mixed. One girl closed her eyes and sobbed as the needle went in. Another one smiled at her dad or the nurse the whole time.

Keira Banks, 13, knew the chances of teens getting a severe case of the coronavirus was low, but it wasn’t mainly about herself.

“I don’t want my grandparents to risk getting it” from her, she said.

Gavin Douglas, who opted to continue online instruction only for the remainder of this school year, was eager to return to the classroom.

“Next year I want to go back,” he said, and he figured the vaccine would greatly reduce his risk.

“I don’t want to wear the mask,” Levi Ross, 13, said.

Neither he nor his sister, Carlyn, 16, were ready for a return to something like normal.

The COVID year has been a long one for everyone, but for kids it can seem especially long.

For a couple of months, those 16 and older have been eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, but two weeks ago, the drug was approved for children as young as 12.

Gov. Andy Beshear last week encouraged parents to get their older kids vaccinated.

“We need every eligible student, and the parents and guardians of every eligible student, to understand these vaccines are safe and will protect our young people from what can be a devastating illness with lifelong consequences,” he said in Lexington last Tuesday.

The governor said Kentucky led the nation in getting educators vaccinated against COVID, which allowed the state to reopen its schools earlier than most states.

On May 28, all indoor and outdoor events of any size and businesses of any capacity can increase to 75 percent capacity, and two weeks later, the state will lift all capacity restrictions and end the mask mandate with the exception of places where people are most vulnerable.

The governor said he was keeping some capacity limits and the mask mandate in place until June 11 in order to give 12- to 15-year-old Kentuckians enough time to receive both doses of the vaccine before all restrictions are lifted.

Kissick said the Health Department hasn’t yet received any change in guidance from the Department for Public Health about lifting the mask requirement for students.

“I do expect that” sometime in the near future, she said.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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