Polis: Colorado kids 12 and up may be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine as soon as Thursday
UPDATE, May 13: A U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention panel voted Wednesday to recommend Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine be used for kids as young as 12. Fourteen out of 15 members of the panel voted to lower the age limit to 12. Read more here.
Coloradans 12 and older are expected to be eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as soon as Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC have approved emergency use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 12-15 on Monday, dependent on one final approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Pfizer vaccine underwent “robust trials” that showed the vaccine had 100% efficacy among the age group, state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said Tuesday, and a subcommittee of the CDC is set to vote on allowing the Pfizer vaccine for the age group Wednesday afternoon.
The CDC voted Wednesday recommending that the Pfizer vaccine be used for kids 12-15.
Colorado officials expect it will be approved and are encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Over the past year, Colorado students have had to overcome overwhelming odds just to be a kid,” Polis said. “ … And getting students the vaccine is not just about, of course, protecting lives, it’s also about making sure that our kids are able to experience everything our schools have to offer."
Track COVID-19:Larimer County and Colorado case, vaccination information
All vaccine sites that receive Pfizer vaccines will be able to vaccinate those 12 and older once the CDC gives final approval, including all six mass vaccination sites in the state, Polis and Herlihy said.
Pharmacies, community vaccination sites and doctor's offices will also be allowed to vaccinate this age group as long as they have a supply of Pfizer.
Polis said the state has been trying to preserve Pfizer doses in anticipation of this news, so he expects there will be adequate supply for children who want to get vaccinated this weekend, but it may take a few weeks to get through everyone who wants one.
Children have been increasingly adding to Colorado's case rates for a number of weeks now. Last week, people 19 and younger made up almost 27% of the state’s total cases.
Herlihy said Colorado's highest case rates are currently among middle school and high school students in the state.
“The best way we can make progress in reducing the rapid increases in the COVID rates among teenagers is by ensuring that people age 12 and up are able to get safely vaccinated promptly,” Polis said.
In Larimer County, people under 18 have made up almost 21% of COVID-19 cases in the last 30 days, and K-12 schools have consistently been reporting outbreaks.
Larimer County Public Health Director Tom Gonzales told county commissioners during a meeting Tuesday that the county is working with Poudre and Thompson school districts to set up school-based vaccine clinics next week. A clinic is also in the works for schools in Estes Park.
Gonzales said details for some of these clinics will likely be finalized by Wednesday.
The county health department is also hiring three youth interns spread out through the county to help with vaccine outreach as vaccines become available to younger residents, Gonzales said.
Molly Bohannon covers education for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at email@example.com. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.