Vaccine fully authorized for 12-year-olds
Last updated 5/13/2021 at 12:49pm
Editor’s note: This has been updated to include a Pfizer vaccine clinic set for Havre May 20.
With the federal government authorizing and issuing recommendations Wednesday for administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to people 12 and older, some local residents already are taking advantage of the opportunity.
Rocky Boy Health Center CEO Joel Rosette said that after the recommendations came out from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday, health center personnel administered some of the vaccine to younger recipients at a ground-breaking event that afternoon.
"I think we did 20 yesterday at our event," he said.
Previously, the government had given emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older.
Other vaccines, such as the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, are only authorized for people 18 and older.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine in people 12 and older Monday, and health organizations were waiting for recommendations on how to proceed from Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations, which were released and adopted Wednesday.
"Today, I adopted CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' recommendation that endorsed the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and its use in 12- through 15-year-old adolescents," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement released Wednesday. "CDC now recommends that this vaccine be used among this population, and providers may begin vaccinating them right away."
"Though most children with COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms, some children can get severely ill and require hospitalization," she contineud. "There have also been rare, tragic cases of children dying from COVID-19 and its effects."
"For vaccination to do its job, we must do our critical part," Walensky added. "That means vaccinating as many people as possible who are eligible. This official CDC action opens vaccination to approximately 17 million adolescents in the United States and strengthens our nation's efforts to protect even more people from the effects of COVID-19. Getting adolescents vaccinated means their faster return to social activities and can provide parents and caregivers peace of mind knowing their family is protected."
Although studies are ongoing in people 12 to 17 for other vaccines including the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, and for children from 6 months to 12 years for the Pfizer and other vaccines, Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for people younger than 18 at this point.
The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at extremely cold temperatures and is not available in many locations, but local residents do have some access.
Northern Montana Health Care announced today Fort Belknap Health Services would be bringing Pfizer vaccine for a vaccination clinic at the flu clinic east of Northern Montana Hospital next Thursday, April 20.
The clinic will run from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. with walk-ins only, no appointments scheduled. The announcement said parents with questions can call 262-1585.
Rosette said Rocky Boy Health Center has a mobile clinic - and are having a celebration Friday for receiving a new one - it has been using to take vaccine out to people on the reservation, and he is in contact with Hill County Health Officer Kim Berg to set up using the mobile units to bring vaccine to Havre and possibly other locations off-reservation in the county.
Berg said this morning dates and locations were not yet available, but would be publicized once they are set.
The Rocky Boy Health Center had previously opened its vaccinations to any eligible person. A post on its Facebook page today said people can visit its mobile clinic or call 395-1655 to schedule an appointment for anyone 12 and older.
In a COVID-19 update Wednesday evening, Blaine County Health Department noted the recommendations were adopted.
"We plan to include this newly approved age group in our upcoming vaccination clinics as supply allows," the release said. "If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, please call our office at 357-2345."
Fort Belknap Health Services had not responded to a request for information by printing deadline this morning, but a post on the Fort Belknap Indian Community Facebook page said COVID-19 vaccinations are available to the general public. People can call 353-3219 to schedule an appointment, the post said.
Liberty County Health Department has said people can call 406-759-5517 to schedule an appointment for a vaccination with the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that if enough interest is shown, it might be able to obtain the Pfizer vaccine for a clinic or scheduled vaccinations.
Chouteau County has been offering vaccinations with the Moderna and Johsnon & Johnson vaccines so far. People can call the Chouteau County Health Deparatment at 406-622-3771 and at Big Sandy Pharmacy at 406-622-5588 to schedule a vaccination and for more information.