CHEYENNE – The Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department will begin offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 12-15 years old today, following a vote by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel.
“Check that off our to-do list,” City-County Health Executive Director Kathy Emmons said after the Wednesday vote, which was 14-0 in favor of authorization, with one panel member abstaining.
As of Wednesday afternoon, about 85 appointments for 12- to 15-year-olds had been made through the health department, Emmons said.
City-County Health will be administering the shots from 9 to 11:45 a.m. and 1 to 3:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday at its 614 South Greeley Highway vaccination clinic. Though the public can register ahead of time, walk-ins are also welcome. People under 18 need the signature of a parent or guardian to receive the vaccine. Emmons said all Laramie County health care providers who have the Pfizer vaccine plan to offer it to anyone 12 and older.
Shortly after the CDC vote, Albany County Public Health also posted on its Facebook page that it would hold a walk-in vaccination clinic from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at its 2901 E. Armory Rd. location in Laramie.
Wyoming Department of Health spokesperson Kim Deti said Wednesday that there was “no specific state or county action necessary for vaccine providers to begin administering vaccines” to 12- to 15-year-olds.
The Pfizer vaccine was previously approved for people 16 years of age and older. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration declared the Pfizer vaccine safe and effective for people 12 and older.
In Laramie County alone, more than 1,000 children have been infected by the virus, Emmons said.
“I’m concerned about the welfare, the health of those kids, because even if they show no symptoms or show few symptoms now, we still don’t know about long-term effect,” she said.
The idea that children don’t get COVID-19 or don’t spread the virus is completely untrue, Emmons said.
“This is a contagious virus, and it doesn’t matter how old you are – if you’re positive, you’re still contagious,” she said. “(Vaccinating children) is just another way of helping make sure that we’re keeping kids safe, and we’re keeping families safe.”
Despite the expected increase in appointments because of the expansion to younger teenagers, the number of people making appointments continues to slow in all other age groups, Emmons said.
According to CDC data updated Wednesday morning, 31.4% of all people in Laramie County had been fully vaccinated, meaning they’d received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or received the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine. It held the seventh-highest spot among the state’s 23 counties, with Teton County topping the list at 61% – a far cry from second-highest Fremont County, which has 35%.
Still, Laramie County was just below the U.S. average, which sat at 35.4% of people fully vaccinated.
“Every person we get vaccinated helps increase the community safety, which is also going to help impact activities for families and kids, our businesses, our economy – it’s all connected together,” Emmons said.