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Here's Where Idaho's Teen Vaccinations Stand

A nurse gives a teen a COVID-19 vaccine.
Seth Wenig
Alejandro Garcia, 16, receives his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J., Monday, April 19, 2021.

Idaho health officials have said getting children vaccinated is key to boosting local immunity.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 4,530 12- through 15-year-olds — about 4.3% of them in the state — had gotten at last one vaccine dose. Teens between those ages have only been eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine for a week, after Pfizer got emergency use authorization for its vaccine to be used in kids as young as 12.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for adolescents.

"None of the adolescents in the phase 3 clinical trials had unusual or severe reactions to the vaccine," State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn wrote in a blog post.

"While children and adolescents are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 illness compared with adults, they can become seriously ill from COVID-19 and spread the virus when infected," she continued.

About 20% of 16- and 17-year-olds in the state have gotten at least their first dose, but it's been more than a month since this group of older teens became eligible. During a media call last week, Hahn said state officials would like the number of teens getting vaccinates to be higher.

Since the beginning of the vaccine rollout, Idaho has lagged compared to other states in the total percent of the population that’s been vaccinated.

State health officials said Idaho's large youth population put it at a disadvantage because, for a while, vaccines were out of reach for about a quarter of people in the state. But as the eligibility age drops, that statewide percentage becomes more accurate.

Right now, about 30% of Idahoans have gotten at least one dose. Just eight states are below Idaho on that measure, according to NPR.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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