The Denver Post

FAQ: When, where kids can get vaccines

- By Tiney Ricciardi Tiney Ricciardi: cricciardi@denverpost.com or @tineywrist­watch

The U.S. Food and Drug Administra­tion has approved an emergency use authorizat­ion to administer Pfizer’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine to adolescent­s aged 12 to 15.

It’s the first COVID-19 vaccine approved for this demographi­c and it has shown 100% efficacy for that age group in clinical trials, according to said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Colorado’s state epidemiolo­gist.

“This is another important milestone in protecting Coloradans and ending the pandemic,” Herlihy said.

Rollout across Colorado could start as soon as later this week. Here’s what you need to know to get your kids inoculated.

Where can my child get vaccinated?

Children 12 to 15 will be able to receive the Pfizer vaccine anywhere it is available, Gov. Jared Polis said. That includes drive-thru vaccinatio­n clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores, hospitals, doctors’ offices, community-based health clinics and more. Additional­ly, mobile vaccinatio­n clinics will continue to pop up around the state.

Most clinics no longer require an appointmen­t, so patients can walk up to receive a shot, Polis said.

The state hopes to partner with schools such as it does workplaces to host vaccine clinics, he added.

Polis cautioned parents to make sure the Pfizer vaccine is available wherever they decide to bring their children.

“While we think it’s very likely that the Moderna and the (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine will work on young people, they have not been approved,” Polis said.

Pfizer’s vaccine is also approved for kids ages 16 and up, while vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are approved for those 18 and up.

When can my child get vaccinated?

Coloradans aged 12 to 15 could be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by this weekend, Polis said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the federal Advisory Committee on Immunizati­on Practices will formally vote to approve or disapprove the vaccine for use in adolescent­s. The committee is expected to give the green light and once it does, the state Department of Public Health and Environmen­t will begin the rollout to Colorado youth, Herlihy said.

What if my child is under 12 years old?

Vaccine trials are currently underway for children younger than 12, but none have been approved yet, said Dr. Sean O’Leary, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus.

Pfizer hopes to have enough clinical data to submit its vaccine for kids ages 2 to 11 for an emergency use authorizat­ion by September, he added.

Will my child be required to be vaccinated before the next school year?

Many colleges, including the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, will require students to be vaccinated before attending in the fall. It’s unclear, however, if elementary, middle and high school students will be subject to such a mandate.

The Colorado Board of Health, part of the Department of Public Health and Environmen­t, decides which vaccines are required for students attending school.

Currently, it mandates students in elementary through high school be vaccinated against hepatitis B, measles, tetanus, chicken pox and poliovirus, among other diseases. Requiremen­ts apply to both private and public institutio­ns, as well as kids attending child care. The state allows certain medical and nonmedical exemptions for those vaccine requiremen­ts.

According to O’Leary, the board of health has historical­ly evaluated diseases based on their propensity to spread within schools. That could make COVID-19 a prime candidate for a K-12 vaccinatio­n requiremen­t, he said, but it’s unclear if that will happen by fall, if at all.

COVID-19 vaccines remain under emergency use authorizat­ion, which complicate­s the timeline.

“The hope is that, one, we will have COVID down to pretty low numbers by getting really high vaccinatio­n rates in these coming months and also that a lot of the children who are eligible will choose to get vaccinated,” O’Leary said.

No one from the health department was immediatel­y available for comment, but the agency’s website says it is not considerin­g a statewide vaccine mandate.

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