BILLINGS- As the FDA approved emergency authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to 12 to 15-year olds, Yellowstone County health officials are gearing up to get shots in the arms of teens in that age group.
“These are very safe, very effective vaccines,” said Yellowstone County Health officer John Felton. “And that’s the fastest way to get our community fully open and safe.”
Felton says RiverStone has an unlimited supply of vaccines for this age group ready to go for as early as Thursday.
This as the agency also releases details on several community mass vaccination clinics partnering up with local businesses and churches to get the vaccine out.
Those clinics include:
· May 13, 5-7 p.m. at Red Oxx, 310 N. 13th St., Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines offered. This clinic coincides with a Pub Station concert.
· May 14, 5-7 p.m. at Red Oxx, 310 N. 13th St., Moderna, and J&J vaccines. This clinic coincides with a sold-out Pub Station concert.
· May 16, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Atonement Lutheran Church, 1290 Sierra Granda Blvd., Moderna and J&J.
· May 20, 10-11 a.m., Custer Public School, J&J vaccine.
· May 21, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., RiverStone Health, Lil Anderson Center (four-story building at 123 S. 27th St.), Pfizer.
· May 26, noon to 2 p.m., Harvest Church, 1235 W. Wicks Lane, Moderna, and J&J.
· June 3, 10 a.m. to noon, Elysian School, 6416 Elysian Road, Moderna, and J&J.
Health officials say children should be vaccinated to raise immunity in the United States.
“It really does just add another layer of protection to the community,” said Felton. “The kids in our community who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the largest group is in that middle school and high school age.”
But what do parents need to know before coming to an appointment?
“Anyone who's younger than 18 needs to have signed consent from a parent. Certainly, it's always preferable if that parent or guardian comes in,” he said.
And for those parents still feeling a bit hesitant about giving their child the vaccine, Felton asks people to think about the ways to become immune.
“I think what people need to remember is the fastest way to get our community more open and safer is through vaccination,” he said. “when you look at the two ways you can become immune, it's either through natural infection or its from vaccination.”
The Pfizer vaccine is approved for ages 16 and older and is expected to receive Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approval for children age 12 and older this week. The Moderna and J&J vaccines are approved for people 18 and older.
People ages 12-17 must have a consent form signed by a parent or guardian. Consent forms are available at the clinics and at covid.riverstonehealth.org under “vaccinations”.