Utah health officials give green light to vaccinate kids ages 12-15 with Pfizer

May 12, 2021, 4:48 PM | Updated: 11:47 pm
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health has given the green light to provide the Pfizer vaccine to Utahns ages 12 through 15.

In a statement, the department said that providers should first become familiar with the guidelines for administering the shots to this age group. And then to start doing so as soon as possible.

Today’s announcement means that there are about 215,000 children in Utah who are now eligible to become vaccinated against COVID-19.

So, when will these vaccinations happen?  State Immunization Director Rich Lakin says the CDC still has one more vote they have to go through before they give their final approval, and that’s scheduled for Thursday morning.  However, he has no reason to believe the approval won’t happen.  Once the final vote takes place, local health department will receive word immediately, and will be able to vaccinate kids in this age groups as soon as doses are available.

“I know that there will be some pharmacies that will be open on Friday and Saturday to start administering,” Lakin says.

He says Utahns need to remember the Pfizer vaccine is trickier to store since it has to be placed in ultra-cold storage.  So, doses may be somewhat limited.

Lakin says, “A smaller physicians’ office probably doesn’t have an ultra-cold freezer.”

However, the state will be able to transport these doses across the state, which will make it easier for smaller health clinics and doctors to administer the vaccine.

“We will try to move that vaccine around to private physicians and others as quickly as possible so that pediatricians and family practitioners can start vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds,” according to Lakin.

Health officials are also keeping a close eye on the Moderna vaccine and when it would be approved for people under the age of 18.  However, Lakin says they cant’ predict when that would happen with any real certainty.

“Usually, Moderna has been running about a month to a month and a half behind Pfizer,” he says.

UDOH officials also say a 13-year-old already received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, by accident, several days ago.  However, since the medicine has been approved by the FDA for younger teens, no actual rules were broken.

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Utah health officials give green light to vaccinate kids ages 12-15 with Pfizer