COON RAPIDS, Minn. — After the Pfizer vaccine was approved by federal regulators for kids ages 12-15, at least one local health provider is already offering the shots to younger teens.
Starting Thursday, the Allina Health network will be one of the first providers in the state to make appointments for the newly-approved age group at a number of sites. Previously, only Minnesotans older than 16 could receive a COVID vaccine.
On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said health care providers can begin administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to kids age 12 to 15 following an endorsement from a CDC advisory panel.
MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said at a press conference that providers can begin administering the vaccine as soon as they receive guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
"Historically most providers in Minnesota will wait for CDC and MDH to issue guidance for newly eligible groups," Ehresmann said. "We will do that once we have the ACIP recommendations. The ACIP recommendations often contain important information for clinicians, such as whether a vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines, or what the interval should be; contraindications may be spelled out, etc."
Ehresmann recommends that parents call ahead to vaccine providers to ensure that the Pfizer vaccine is available, since that is the only brand currently approved for the 12 to 15 age group.
“Offering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 to 15 years old is an important milestone in our effort to protect our patients, staff and communities from the virus,” Allina Health Group Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Misa, MD, said in a statement. “Being able to vaccinate our younger community members is the best way to protect them from getting sick or spreading COVID-19.”
Allina recommends booking an appointment for a vaccine online, as the shots are first come, first served.
“Being able to vaccinate our younger community members is the best way to protect from getting sick or spreading COVID-19,” said Allina Health’s Dr. John Misa. Doctors with Allina note that the Pfizer COVID vaccine can only be given 14 days before or after regularly recommended non-COVID vaccines. Parents should keep that in mind when scheduling an appointment, especially kids have fallen behind on wellness visits.
More information about appointments is available on the Allina Health website.
In a study of more than 2,000 children on the side effects reported from the Pfizer two-shot vaccine, the most commonly reported complaint is discomfort at the injection site. Around 77% of children reported feeling some fatigue after the vaccination, and less than half said they felt chills, muscle pain or fever.
Statewide, Minnesota is getting closer to ending the COVID mask mandate. Gov. Tim Walz said that when 70% of people are vaccinated, the mask mandate will be lifted. As of Thursday morning, data from MDH shows that 60.7% of eligible Minnesotans have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.