COLUMBUS, Ohio – Governor Mike DeWine DeWine said Ohio will expand vaccine approvals to 12-15 year olds as early as Wednesday after the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
What you need to know
- Governor Mike DeWine said the state plans to extend immunization eligibility to 12-15 year olds once the FDA grants approval
- Some schools find it difficult to use vaccine doses for 16 and 17 year olds when parents push back
- State officials hope the expansion will improve Ohio’s vaccination rates
Ohio asked to keep more than 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week in anticipation of the expanded approval.
Hesitation in schools
According to Ohio officials, vaccine intake is expected to be lower in children ages 12-15 as parents hesitate to shoot.
In the Youngstown City school district, only three of 1,300 eligible students aged 16 and over have enrolled in the school’s vaccination clinics.
One of the vaccination clinics was at East High School in Youngstown. (Courtesy of BSHM Architects)
District nursing director Kenyetta Burr said school officials contacted every family, but there was a shocking lack of interest in vaccinations among students.
“We sent letters home with all the papers explaining what we were offering,” said Burr. “It seems to me that a lot of parents feel uncomfortable. Not sure how the vaccine will affect their children as this is the first time it has been offered to this age group. “
A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor in April found that only 3 in 10 parents said they would be willing to vaccinate their children as soon as they become available.
Burr said she manned six nurses for each of the vaccination clinics at Youngstown Schools and had 360 doses available, many of which would need to be shipped to QUICKmed Urgent Care to be used in the general population.
When asked if the demand was low because the students had already been vaccinated elsewhere, Burr said this was not the case.
“We didn’t get a response saying they got it elsewhere,” she said.
Instead, she said the parents told her, “You won’t put that in my child” or “My child is not a guinea pig.”
She did not see the same hesitation among the children themselves.
Burr said some parents in the district don’t believe that vaccines should be given at school.
“Talking about someone’s child and vaccinating them is difficult. We have parents who do not want to receive regular vaccinations for their child. So if they are asked to get a COVID vaccine it will eventually be amplified, ”she said.
Hope for the vaccination rate in ohio
DeWine made a statement Monday night saying he was encouraged by the news and hoped Ohio could build on its vaccination rate of 41.5%.
“On the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the CDC, Ohio will immediately extend immunization eligibility to adolescents ages 12-15 and provide appropriate guidance to parents, guardians, and vaccine providers across the state. Vaccines are our way back to a more normal life, “the statement said.
The governor is one of a group of six governors who will meet with President Joe Biden on Tuesday to discuss the White House’s goal of vaccinating 70% of the United States and states’ approaches to increasing adoption, said spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday afternoon.
Previously, the vaccine was approved for people aged 16 and over. The companies applied for extended approval at the beginning of April. According to the companies, data from phase 3 clinical trials showed 100% efficacy and strong antibody responses for the 12-15 age group.
Pfizer plans to seek another expanded EEA for children ages 2-11 in September. The company is currently in a study to test children aged 6 months to 11 years.
Vaccinations for children between the ages of 12 and 15 have already begun in the United States, including in Georgia. Most states, however, are waiting for the CDC committee’s recommendation on Wednesday, said Dr. Robert Frenck of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital who is director of vaccine research and is leading the hospital’s participation in the Pfizer childhood vaccine study.
“The FDA provides the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Once the FDA is in order, you can technically begin. The FDA licenses the vaccine and then makes the ACIP recommendations,” he told Spectrum News during a virtual meeting event Tuesday morning . “As of today, there is nothing wrong with it. The ACIP will not make its recommendations until tomorrow. “
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital officials said vaccinations for the age group are due to begin by Thursday and the hospital does not require proof of age.
Cincinnati Children’s was one of the first four hospitals across the country to enroll children between the ages of 5 and 11 in Pfizer’s vaccination study, having previously enrolled children in the age group now eligible for vaccination.
According to Frenck, the state health departments are allied with the CDC. After Wednesday’s meeting, he expects Ohio to approve vaccinations quickly, which he hopes will lower case rates among teenagers currently contracting and transmitting the virus below the highest rates.
“I would think it would be basically at the same time as Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, with the ACIP decision,” he said.