Now that the Federal Drug Administration has approved emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents ages 12-15, local health officials say this age group should be able to get their shots as soon as Thursday.
Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County's public health commissioner, said although this is great news for the community, he understands parents may have concerns. He advised parents to talk to their family health care provider.
“Raise your concerns. Ask your questions, and please do your own research from valuable valid sources,” Mendoza said.
Dr. Stephen Cook, a pediatrician at URMC’s Golisano Children’s Hospital, said vaccinating the younger population will require a new strategy.
“Mass vaccination sites have been very good at doing what they did. But we're entering a different phase now. So this does need to be in different settings,” said Cook.
Cook said although kids don’t seem to get as sick once they're infected by the coronavirus, it’s just a matter of time before the virus adapts.
“When a child starts to biologically mature, it brings them into the same transmission level as an adult,” said Cook, “and you have to remember, unchecked transmission can allow for more mutations.”
The county’s health department has been working with the University of Rochester Medical Center and Rochester Regional Health to get vaccine doses into primary care settings. Mendoza is urging all pediatricians and family care doctors to make the vaccine available at their offices.
“Our offices are probably the best place,” Mendoza said. “It's the place that our patients will feel the most comfortable, and we are probably the best equipped to provide this vaccine to our community.”
Mendoza said the county is willing to help any doctor’s office that is not yet providing the vaccine start the process.
He also said all county-run sites will allow walk-ins for all eligible residents ages 12 and older. Children will not be able to get vaccinated without consent from a parent or guardian.
Mendoza said the county-sites will open up an “expanded cadre” of appointments this weekend in preparation for a rush of 12- to 15-year-old residents.
Appointments can still be made at www.flvaccinehub.com.