Pfizer vaccine and kids: Wisconsin preps for new age group

A CDC panel voted Wednesday, May 12 to recommend the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids as young as 12 years old.

Wisconsin health officials are preparing to administer the shots as soon as Thursday, including at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.

Health leaders call the CDC's recommendation a major step forward in the fight against the coronavirus. The state said vaccinators are ready to administer doses to the new wave of young people.

"Trials show that the Pfizer vaccine is 100% effective in preventing infection in children age 12 to 15 and that is very, very good news," said Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).

Pfizer's vaccine was previously endorsed for kids as young as 16. The CDC's Wednesday recommendation clears the way for a greater number of people to receive the shot.

Gov. Tony Evers and state health officials monitored the announcement.

"If the guidelines are as simple as an expansion of age range, then we will update the standing order tonight and vaccinations can begin tomorrow," Willems Van Dijk said.

The endorsement came two days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration signed off on the shots for the same age group.

Willems Van Dijk said 300,000 people are newly eligible in Wisconsin and there is enough vaccine supply.

"Just like will all vaccinations in Wisconsin, your child will need parental or guardian consent to get the COVID-19 vaccine," said Willems Van Dijk.

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President Joe Biden encouraged parents across the country to get their kids vaccinated.

"We're ready, this new population is going to find the vaccine rollout fast and efficient," President Biden said. "As of tomorrow, more than 15,000 pharmacies will be ready to vaccinate this age group."

Depending on communities, Wisconsin health leaders say schools will play a role in getting kids their first dose – helping boost the vaccination effort.

"This is a long journey, and we'll continue to make progress one step at a time," said Willems Van Dijk.

Only the Pfizer vaccine has been recommended for kids as young as 12 years old. Once the CDC director signs off on the recommendation, vaccinations can begin.

Health officials also say vaccinations are a way for schools to reopen fully in the fall.

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