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Idaho Doctors Prepare For COVID-19 Vaccine Authorization For Younger Kids

Vials of the Pfizer vaccine are ready to be administered at a health district vaccine clinic in Buhl
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio
Vials of the Pfizer vaccine are prepared for a health district clinic in Buhl.

A COVID-19 vaccine could be available to kids between the ages of 12 and 15 as soon as next week. Idaho doctors are encouraging parents to bring their eligible children to get vaccinated as soon as they're allowed.

A quarter of Idaho’s population is younger than 18, so health officials say they’re looking forward to the anticipated Emergency Use Authorization that will make the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available to young teens. As more people become eligible, they say, Idaho has a greater chance of reaching herd immunity -- or getting as close as possible.

The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only vaccine available to 16- to 18-year-olds. The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the CDC is set to take a vote on the next age cohort next Wednesday. Pfizer’s early clinical results for this age group showed “100% efficacy”.

Dr. Steven Nemerson, the chief clinical officer for Saint Alphonsus Health System, said on Idaho Matters, vaccinating kids is important for both their own health and the community’s health, especially as new virus strains become dominant.

“Not only are they more likely to spread the virus if they're unvaccinated,” Nemerson said, “but they're also more likely to get sick from these mutants that are spreading around now.”

Dr. Kenny Bramwell, the system medical director at St. Luke’s Childrens, said parents should consider getting their kids vaccinated, as it could open more opportunities for them.

“They can, perhaps, participate more fully in summer activities,” he said, “because I’m confident that there will be places they can go or can’t go based on their vaccination status.”

Kallen Mutchie, 13, of Nampa said that’s one reason she is excited to get the shot. Though back in school now four days a week, she’s hoping it’ll mean next school year will look a bit different.

“I’ll probably go back to school more normally and then, I don’t know, I just want to be able to hang out with my friends a little bit more normally,” she said.

St. Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus say their clinics are ready for kids as young as 12 to come in, as soon as the authorization is announced.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

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