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Children 12 and older can start getting Pfizer vaccine in SC

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 8:22 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The last major hurdle to get kids ages 12-15 vaccinated for COVID-19 has been cleared.

A vaccine advisory panel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Pfizer’s vaccine for use in this age group Wednesday.

“CDC now recommends that this vaccine be used among this population, and providers may begin vaccinating them right away,” the agency’s director wrote in a statement.

Ahead of the announcement, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said shots could be available to these younger teenagers as early as Thursday.

It comes as a group of pediatricians in the state said children need vaccines just like adults.

The South Carolina chapter for the American Academy of Pediatrics is concerned that there’s a complacency surrounding getting kids vaccinated.

The chapter’s president, Dr. Robert Saul, said although children are at a lower risk for getting severe illness, the risk is still there. Over 20% of new cases in the U.S. have been of children, the SCAAP said in an op-ed.

“That’s scary in the sense that children can get serious illness,” Saul said. “And as pediatricians, we want to prevent any of those.”

Saul encouraged parents to turn to trusted doctors with any concerns about vaccinating their children.

DHEC said children ages 12 through 15 will need a parent-signed waiver in order to get their shot.

Minors who are 16 or 17 years old do not need parental consent to receive a vaccine from an authorized vaccine provider.

“Be honest with them; explain to them that it may sting,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC’s director of public health, advised parents. “Remind them about the purpose of the vaccine in that it’s really helping to protect their health as well as those people around them’s health, and that the vaccines are the best and quickest way to bring an end to this pandemic.”

The authorization only pertains to the Pfizer two-shot vaccine,, while clinical trials for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots continue for children.

Down the road, Saul said parents should be mindful of the other vaccines kids need to get before heading back to school.

He also explained that there’s oftentimes a resting period between getting different shots and this holds true for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“People need to talk to their healthcare provider in terms of finding out which vaccines they need before school so they can get those, and get the COVID vaccine as quickly as possible, or vice versa,” Saul said.

DHEC said Wednesday they’ve been reaching out to unenrolled providers to help expand the pool of Pfizer providers, and are looking at partnerships with schools to hold clinics.

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