The Arizona state health department announced Tuesday that they are one step away from approval in vaccinating kids ages 12-15. Once given the go ahead with the federal clearance, the state-run COVID-19 vaccination sites will be ready to give shots to kids ages 12-15 on Thursday.
Other vaccination sites in the state are also expected to lower their age requirements immediately, once the a federal vaccine advisory committee issues new usage recommendations for the Pfizer vaccine.
“We’re delighted to be able to welcome these young people to state-run mass-vaccination sites starting Thursday,” Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said in a press release.
“These safe, highly effective, and free vaccines are our best shot at returning to normal, and having more vaccinated individuals gives COVID-19 less of a chance of spreading.”
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration declared that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and offers strong protection for younger teens based on testing of more than 2,000 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices should finalize its recommendations on Wednesday allowing kids in that age group to start receiving the two-dose Pfizer shots in the U.S.
The state-run sites in metro Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Yuma accept walk-ins, but appointments are encouraged. Plans call for the online reservation system to start accepting ages 12-15 at 8 a.m. Thursday. Parental consent will be required.
Dr. Will Humble, director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, encourages parents seeking more information about vaccinating their kids should rely on their pediatricians.
ADHS said Tuesday it is working to get Pfizer vaccines to rural counties that have been receiving only Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots, which are authorized for adults 18 and older.
According to the state health department’s daily update Tuesday, 5,383,508 vaccine doses have been administered in Arizona. 3,068,234 people (42.7% of the state’s population) have received at least one shot and 2,517,206 people in Arizona are fully vaccinated.
For details about statewide vaccine availability, the ADHS website has a vaccine-finder page showing locations and registration information.