COVID-19 vaccinations begin for kids as young as 12


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan kids as young as 12 are starting to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Federal health officials issued emergency approval this week to give Pfizer doses to children ages 12 to 15. Previously, it was available only to those 16 and up.

During a Thursday virtual press conference hosted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, noted that federal recommendations say kids age 12 to 15 can get the COVID-19 vaccine on the same day they get other shots, so it will be convenient for parents who only have to make one trip.

“These vaccines are the path forward to doing the things that we love with the people that we love,” Khaldun said.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the director of the Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, who became well-known for her work during the Flint water crisis, had her daughters — age 12 and 15 — vaccinated during the press conference.

“The COVID vaccine is safe, it is effective, it prevents disease and it saves lives,” Hanna-Attisha told other parents. “I would also say that I trust this vaccine so much that my own children have gotten this vaccine.”

She and other moms stressed that the vaccine is a way to help kids get back to normal and to finally be able to tell them yes when they previously had to say no.

Doctors say the vaccines help protect kids from getting the virus and from the threat of a rare complication called MIS-C that can be deadly or have long-term consequences.

“This is scary and this is something that we don’t really completely understand yet in the medical profession,” Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha said, explaining it presents as inflammation in the heart, brain and skin.

Vaccinating more of the population will also help prevent the mutation of new variants and, of course, encourage herd immunity.

“We’ve never reached herd immunity in other infections such as smallpox, measles and polo. That’s not going to happen with this one either,” Spectrum Health Dr. Liam Sullivan, who specializes in infectious diseases, said.

CVS Health, Rite Aid and Walgreens are all offering the shots to kids as young as 12. Go to their websites for appointment information.

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