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COVID-19

Looking For A Pfizer Vaccine For 12- To 15-Year-Olds? Don't Plan On Getting One From Austin Public Health

A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for children ages 12 to 15.

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Coronavirus cases, daily hospital admissions and intensive care unit use in the Austin area are all down since last week, and the area remains in stage 3 of Austin Public Health’s risk-based guidelines.

Numbers have declined the most among older populations, since they are more likely to have been vaccinated by now. But hospitalizations in the area for people ages 10 to 19 rose over the past week.

After the Food and Drug Administration expanded eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine to kids ages 12 to 15 on Monday, Austin’s chief medical director is encouraging parents to find a vaccine for their children.

“I can tell you that last night and this morning I’ve been looking for Pfizer vaccines for my 15-year-old son,” Dr. Mark Escott told a joint meeting of Travis County commissioners and the Austin City Council on Tuesday.

Escott said vaccinating people in that age group is the next step toward reducing the risk and presence of COVID-19 in the area.

But don’t go looking for a Pfizer vaccine through Austin Public Health. The health department is only providing Moderna vaccines, which are authorized for people 18 or older.

Assistant City Manager Stephanie Hayden-Howard did not say if Austin Public Health plans to get Pfizer vaccines in the future. She did, however, point people to local partners such as UT Health and local pharmacies, like Walgreens and H-E-B, which already offer the Pfizer vaccine.

Travis County Judge Andy Brown said Pfizer vaccines would be available at the Travis County Expo Center drive-thru site this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Everything that we’re giving out will be 12 and up. If the CDC says we can do it, we’re gonna do that,” Brown said.

Consent from a parent or guardian is needed for anyone under the age of 18.

Some council members said they tried to sign their own children up for a vaccine but found that most of the sites had not yet been updated to include the expanded eligibility.

Escott said he, too, had little luck finding a site where he could register his son. He said Austin Public Health would reach out to local pharmacies at H-E-B and CVS for a timeline of when 12- to 15- year-olds can sign up for vaccine appointments online.

“Generally speaking, the walk-up sites are going to be easier to adjust because they already have consent forms. They already have a process for minors who are going to get vaccinated,” Escott said. “It’s gonna be the online platforms that are going to take a bit longer to re-adjust.”

Got a tip? Email Jerry Quijano at jerry@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @jerryquijano.

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