Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Louisiana: kids can get COVID-19 vaccine Thursday

by Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Children as young as 12 can start receiving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday in Louisiana, the state health officer announced, adding that parents could already make appointments.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to protect additional age groups and their families with this highly safe and effective vaccine,” Dr. Joseph Kanter said Wednesday. “Going Sleeves Up will mean getting back to normal … going to camp and other fun summer activities, and a normal experience at school in the fall.”

He spoke on Zoom shortly after federal advisers endorsed the vaccine Wednesday for youths aged 12 to 15.

The health department expects to release its formal notice Thursday morning, and any clinic or other outlet that has the Pfizer vaccine can start giving it to children 12 and up immediately after that, Kanter said.

More than 1,500 clinics, hospitals and pharmacies in Louisiana have the Pfizer vaccine, the only one approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people this young.

Ochsner Health and Louisiana State University Health said they’re ready to start as soon as authorization is officially given.

“We are really, really excited” at the prospect, said Dr. William Lennarz, system chair of pediatrics for Ochsner.

“I view this as a major step forward in combating the epidemic,” he said.

Ochsner has the vaccine at 16 New Orleans-area clinics and one in the Houma area.

LSU Health New Orleans spokeswoman Leslie Capo said Wednesday that its clinic was already making appointments for children.

She said LSU runs just one clinic in the city, though its faculty, residents and students also work with other providers.

She said LSU’s clinic will require parents to accompany their children and sign a consent form.

At many locations, Kanter said, parents won’t need to be present as long as their children have a signed consent form with them.

He noted that the federal vaccines.gov website can be used to locate vaccination sites. Information is available and appointments can be scheduled through the state vaccine hotline, 1-855-453-0774. It’s open seven days a week until 8 p.m. and starting at noon Sundays and 8 a.m. the other six days.

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