BOISE, Idaho — Idaho's two largest healthcare providers are opening COVID-19 vaccine appointments for children ages 12-15.
This comes on the heels of Wednesday's decision by the FDA and a CDC advisory committee to grant Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to this new age group.
Saint Alphonsus and St. Luke's health systems say this decision means that anyone age 12 and above can now receive the two-dose vaccination.
Starting Thursday, St. Luke's will begin administering the Pfizer vaccine to adolescents 12 and up. Parents can start scheduling appointments for teens and preteens on Thursday morning, or just walk-in with their child at one of St. Luke's dedicated Pfizer vaccine clinic in Boise, Meridian, Nampa, McCall and Twin Falls. The complete list of vaccination clinics is on St. Luke's website.
The Pfizer vaccine is also available at St. Luke's Mobile Vaccine Unit (MVU), which travels around southwest Idaho bringing the vaccine to communities that may be having trouble accessing vaccine appointments. This week, the MVU is visiting the Wood River area.
Saint Alphonsus is encouraging their patients to go online to schedule an appointment. Saint Alphonsus offers vaccinations at its clinic located in The Village at Meridian, as well as locations in Caldwell and Fruitland.
Saint Alphonsus Medical Centers in Ontario and Baker City, Oregon offer the Moderna vaccine, which is only authorized for patients 18 and older. For patients who prefer a single-dose vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is available upon request to patients 18 years and older at the Saint Alphonsus clinic in Meridian.
"We know that the vaccine has been proven to decrease your risk of getting the infection, and if you do get the infection, can decrease your risk of hospitalization and death. It's a huge benefit and is now available to children age 12-plus. That's amazing," said Dr. Vaun Archibald, DO, a Saint Alphonsus Medical Group pediatrician. "I think we should take advantage of this opportunity."
Patients under the age of 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian when receiving their vaccination or must submit a consent form signed by a parent or guardian.
Crush the Curve Idaho is also joining the effort by hosting two free vaccine clinics for teens and pre-teens.
The first clinic is happening at the Boise Airport on May 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The second dose will be given out on June 12.
The other clinic will happen at Caldwell High School on June 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those who go to that clinic will get their second dose on June 26.
More than 3.7 million children are known to have contracted COVID-19, and 22 percent of all new cases in the country are in children, according to a new report from American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Archibald said those who say kids can't get the disease are mistaken. He "100-percent" supports giving the vaccine to this group of children. "Our greatest hope of getting back to a normal life is universal vaccination," he said.
And Primary Health Medical Group tells KTVB that they have begun administering the vaccine to children ages 12-15 at their clinics. CEO Dr. David Peterman said they vaccinated a 12-year-old Wednesday afternoon at a clinic in downtown Boise.
Those who are interested in getting their children vaccinated should contact Primary Health for more information. You can go to their website for a list of clinics and what shots are being offered.
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