Teens urged to make vaccine appointments

A shot is prepared as part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. in Binghamton, New York. (Hans Pennink/Detroit Free Press/TNS

When will children be eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19?

(TNS) – As the number of adults in the U.S. who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 continues to increase, children under 16 aren’t authorized to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Children who are 16 and up can receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, but no one under 18 is eligible for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

“Trials are ongoing now for pediatric populations,” says Dr. Melanie Swift, co-chair of Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group. “Children are being vaccinated in studies now and will continue to be. There are several manufacturers that are doing pediatric trials.”

The types of vaccines will be the same as adults, but the difference likely will be in the dose.

“They may need a lower dose because they’re generally smaller. And they also have reactive immune systems, so they may not need as high a dose as adults to mount a robust response. Sometimes, though, children need more doses of a vaccine in order to develop that first immunity. So we will see,” says Dr. Swift.

To approve for children under an emergency use authorization, trials need a large number of children to participate. And the trials need to follow at least half of the children for two months or more after their final dose of vaccine.

Dr. Swift says it will probably be late summer before a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for children under 16.

“Children need to be studied separately because they’re not just little adults. They react differently to immune challenges,” she says. “They’ve generally had milder cases of COVID-19, so they may react better to vaccines. But we need to know that we’re giving them the right dose and the right number of doses at the right time for their younger immune systems to benefit the most.”

Local angle

New York State expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility this week to those age 16 and older.

Residents can determine their eligibility through an online screening tool which determines if their age, employment or health qualifies them for a shot. To check eligibility and schedule a vaccine, use the “Am I Eligible” app and https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/.

New York State also has a vaccination hotline you can call to schedule a vaccine, 1-833-NYS-4VAX (1-833-697-4829).

The Finger Lakes COVID-19 Vaccine Hub, https://flvaccinehub.org, has information on eligibility, vaccine providers in nine counties, including Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties; and links to appointment scheduling sites.

Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments maintain a vaccination web page at https://bit.ly/GOHealthVaccine. Choose either the Moderna Clinic or the Pfizer Clinic to make an appointment. When you register, it will show which vaccine will be at the clinic. In Genesee County, the clinics are at the Athletic Center at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd., Batavia. In Orleans County, the clinics are at the Ridgeway Fire Hall, 11392 Ridge Rd., Medina.

The Livingston County Public Health Department maintains vaccine information, including its clinic schedule at https://www.livingstoncounty.us/1233/COVID-19-Vaccine-Information.

The Wyoming County Health Department has vaccine information at https://www.wyomingco.net/595/COVID-19

Depending on where you live, the major pharmacy chains, including pharmacies at Tops Friendly Markets and Wegmans, may have vaccine appointments. Most will require you to fill out an eligibility form to get started.

Residents may also wish to check with their primary care physician or local pharmacy to see if they will be able to provide a COVID-19 vaccine.

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