SALT LAKE CITY — Following the guidance of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the Utah Department of Health has told providers to begin offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children 12-15 years old.
According to state officials, approximately 215,000 children in Utah fall between the age category now eligible to receive a vaccine. Utah is one of the youngest states in the country, with a third of the state under the age of 18.
“The sooner providers start vaccinating these kids the better,” said Gov. Spencer Cox in a statement. “Many Utah parents have been waiting for this news so they can make sure their families are more fully protected. This will mean safer gatherings with family and friends and an epic summer.”
Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson told FOX 13 on Tuesday that the state would rely heavily on pediatricians to give out the vaccine to children. The Salt Lake County Health Department said it would offer the vaccine to anyone over 12 beginning Monday at all its clinics. The Utah County Health Department said it would begin Friday (parents must still consent to their child being vaccinated).
Over 23,000 Utah children between 12-15 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the pandemic, state health officials say. Of those, 201 were hospitalized.
“Despite popular thinking, many kids get COVID-19. Some of them get sick enough to require treatment in hospitals and some suffer from serious, potentially long-lasting side effects at rates similar to adults, even when they were asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms at the time of their infection,” said Dr. Michelle Hofmann, UDOH's deputy director. “Protecting these kids by getting them vaccinated is such an important milestone in the COVID-19 response.”
The CDC also changed its stance on administering the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other common vaccines. It is now considered safe for children to receive all vaccines in one visit.