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COVID-19 vaccination now available to ages 16 and up

Max Schulte

Tuesday marks New York state’s expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to residents age 16 and older.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 20% of Monroe County’s population is age 18 or younger, which, according to health officials, makes them essential to achieving herd immunity.

Dr. Cynthia Christy, Rochester Regional Health’s pediatric infectious disease specialist, says teenagers need to understand the bigger picture about getting vaccinated. 

“Even if they personally don't feel that they are at risk, they should think about their parents and their grandparents, and other people who would probably have risk factors to get more ill,” Christy says.

The FDA has approved only the Pfizer vaccine for teenagers, and it's proven to be 100% effective in younger immune systems, Christy says.

She adds that the side effects are very mild, and may include a sore arm, a low-grade fever, or fatigue. 

Parents and children should talk about vaccination, Christy says.

“I think it's really good to have a good conversation with your family," she says. "Bring your parents in, talk to them about the facts you know about.”

Teens younger than 18 need parental consent to receive the vaccine unless they're emancipated.

In light of the increased eligibility, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the “Roll up your sleeve” ad campaign to encourage all New Yorkers, especially those living in heavily affected neighborhoods, to get vaccinated. 

"The vaccine is the weapon that will win the war, but only if we all take it,” Cuomo says.

The campaign begins Wednesday. Christy says the more ways there are to reach the community, the better.

To schedule a vaccine appointment for a minor, click here, or call (585) 922-8888