SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 12, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Department of Health is giving the go ahead after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared the way for 12 to 15 year olds to begin receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC is acting on recommendations from its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, said a news release from UDoH.
“The Utah Department of Health recommends vaccine providers throughout the state become familiar with the CDC’s recommendations for vaccinating this age group, and to begin offering vaccines as soon as they are able,” the news release said.
Approximately 215,000 Utah children fall into this age group and are now eligible to receive the vaccine.
“The sooner providers start vaccinating these kids the better,” said Gov. Spencer J. Cox. “Many Utah parents have been waiting for this news so they can make sure their families are more fully protected. This will mean safer gatherings with family and friends and an epic summer.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 23,419 Utah children ages 12-15 have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the news release said. Approximately 201 12-15 year olds needed to be hospitalized. Of those requiring hospitalization in that age group, 14 developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). MIS-C is a serious condition that can lead to death.
“Despite popular thinking, many kids get COVID-19,” said Dr. Michelle Hofmann, deputy director of the UDoH. “Some of them get sick enough to require treatment in hospitals and some suffer from serious, potentially long-lasting side effects at rates similar to adults, even when they were asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms at the time of their infection. Protecting these kids by getting them vaccinated is such an important milestone in the COVID-19 response.”
The CDC also adjusted its recommendations on administering COVID-19 vaccines at the same time as other vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine may now be given simultaneously with other vaccines.
“Over the past 15 months we have seen an increase in the number of Utah kids who are overdue for routine immunizations,” said Rich Lakin, immunization program manager at the UDoH. “With this change from the CDC we have an important opportunity to not only vaccinate adolescents against COVID-19, but to also catch these kids up on other routine vaccinations.”
The FDA authorized use of the vaccine in children ages 12-15 earlier this week after reviewing data from Pfizer-BioNTech’s clinical trials. The trials included 2,260 participants in this age group. Of these, 1,131 adolescent participants received the vaccine and 1,129 received a saline placebo.
The FDA reports no cases of COVID-19 occurred among vaccine recipients and 16 cases of COVID-19 occurred among placebo recipients. The vaccine was 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in the clinical trial, the news release said.
The most commonly reported side effects, which typically lasted one to three days, in the adolescent clinical trial participants were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever and joint pain.
The FDA has updated the fact sheets for healthcare providers administering the vaccine (vaccination providers) and for recipients and caregivers with information to reflect the use of the vaccine in the adolescent population, including the benefits and risks of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
For more information on how to find a COVID-19 vaccine in Utah click here.