Thursday, June 24, 2021
St. Luke’s Mobile Vaccine Unit to Start Vaccinating 12- to 15-Year-Olds Today
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St. Luke’s Mobile Vaccine Unit will dispense its first vaccines for 12- to 15-year-olds beginning today in Bellevue and Hailey.
   
Thursday, May 13, 2021
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTO BY PAUL RIES

Twelve-year-olds can now get a COVID vaccine on their way to Little League practice.

 Vaccine advisors at the Centers for Disease Control voted 14-0 Wednesday afternoon to recommend use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in youth ages 12 to 15.  A few providers across the country had already started rolling it out for those in that age group after the Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use authorization on Monday.

 
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Idaho reported 225 new cases of COVID on Wednesday for a total of 189,586. Idaho reported three new deaths for a total of 2,064 deaths. Blaine County reported no new cases, its total remaining at 2,377.
 

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare officials announced Wednesday evening that all 12- to 15-year-olds would be eligible immediately.

St. Luke’s Mobile Vaccine Unit, which is making several stops in the Wood River Valley this week, was not able to accommodate the younger teens Wednesday night at the Wood River Community YMCA. But it will begin offering vaccines to 12- to 15-year-olds beginning today, said Joy Prudek, St. Luke’s Wood River public relations manager. The mobile vaccination unit takes walk-ins without appointment.

It stops at 600 N. Main St. in Bellevue this morning and at the Summit Apartments in Hailey this afternoon. It will be at Shoshone on Friday and at Kiwanis Park near the Balmoral Apartments in Hailey all day Saturday.

In addition to offering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the mobile unit offers the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only vaccine being used for those aged 12 to 18 so far.

Others offering Pfizer vaccines in the Wood River Valley include InnerHealth MD in Ketchum and Luke’s Family Pharmacy, Sterling Urgent Care and Sav-On Pharmacy in Hailey. InnerHealth is the only one that currently has Pfizer in stock.

Parents and children can walk in at one of St. Luke’s dedicated Pfizer vaccine clinics in Boise, Meridian, Nampa, McCall and Twin Falls. CVS Pharmacies also are offering Pfizer vaccines. To find a vaccine provider visit https://www.vaccines.gov/search/

Authorizing eligibility for 12- to 15-year-olds means that 85 percent of all Idahoans are now eligible for the vaccine.

“Children can spread COVID-19 inadvertently because their symptoms are often so mild, so this safe and effective vaccine is a critical next step to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Idaho,” said Dr. Christine Hahn, public health medical director and state epidemiologist. “We hope parents will choose to get their children vaccinated so we can keep schools open in the fall and children engaged in their extracurricular activities.”

Dr. Kenny Bramwell, St. Luke’s Children’s Medical director, told reporters Wednesday that there is a lot of excitement over the vaccine being authorized for younger teens. And St. Luke’s spokesperson Anita Kissee confirmed it, saying she expects a lot of walk-ins today given the number of phone calls St. Luke’s hospitals have been getting from parents anxious to get their children vaccinated.

Science has shown kids in this age group have a better protective response than adults, said Bramwell. While the vaccine is 95 percent protective for adults, it’s nearly 100 percent for teenagers.

“That’s phenomenal,” he added.

Bramwell says he’s always asked how safe the vaccine is. It does not cause autism, nor does it cause infertility, he said. Nor is there any truth to the latest rumor that those taking the vaccine are more susceptible to new COVID strains. At the least, the vaccines give people the ability to fight off these strains.

“The vaccine has been studied in thousands of children already. And hundreds of millions of people have taken the vaccine already, which adds to the level of reassurance we can offer people,” he said.

Just over 25 percent of Idaho’s population is under 18. That means the more youth we can vaccinate the closer we can get to a tipping point where COVID-19 is less of a problem, Bramwell said.

“Everybody that gets vaccinated helps us move towards there being fewer reservoirs for this virus in our community,” he added.

Bramwell added that access to a vaccine will be a game changer for middle school students, allowing them to attend summer camp and school safely.

“The more people we can get vaccinated in schools the safer it will be for everyone attending in person. The vaccine is our best path forward out of this problem. Everything else we’ve been doing—masking, isolating—are temporary steps to prevent the spread of this disease whereas vaccines are the way to prevent additional sickness. If we look back at catastrophic illness, such as diphtheria and polio, the way society got through so it was no longer an ongoing threat was through vaccination.”

The percentage of children getting severely ill from Covid compared to adults is lower, he said. But 22 percent of all those currently contracting COVID-19 are children. And children can get multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). Those who do commonly need to be admitted to pediatric intensive care. They can also suffer lifelong damage to multiple organs, including the heart, kidney and brain.

It was just six weeks ago that the vaccine was approved for those ages 16 and 17. Bramwell said Pfizer is currently studying the efficiency and safety of its vaccine in three additional groups: 5- through 11-year-olds, 3- and 4-year-olds and those ages 6 to 24 months of age.

Once researchers feel they’ve obtained enough data, they will seek emergency use authorization. It’s possible these additional groups could begin receiving vaccines this summer or fall at latest.

“In my recollection, no vaccine has happened this quickly,” he said. “And no vaccine has been studied this extensively before being released. This vaccine has been evaluated as much or more than other vaccines.”

Bramwell said parents should make sure their children don’t receive another vaccine within two weeks of their first Pfizer vaccine. Nor should they get another vaccine until two weeks after they’ve gotten the second shot.

That said, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices revised its guidance on co-administration of routine vaccines with COVID-19 vaccines Wednesday, removing the14-day minimum before or after a COVID-19 vaccine to receive any other vaccine.

Children under 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian when receiving their vaccination or submit a consent form signed by a parent or guardian.

WHERE’S ST. LUKE’S MOBILE VACCINE UNIT THIS WEEK?

·  Bellevue at 600 N. Main St. from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, May 13.

·  The Summit Apartments at 155 W. Galena St., in Hailey from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday, May 13.

·  Shoshone at 103 N. Greenwood St. from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, May 14.

·  Kiwanis Park near Balmoral Apartments in Hailey from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 15.

While the unit is not traveling to Carey, a vaccine clinic will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, at Carey High School.


 

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