Sparrow Hospital began to administer COVID-19 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to children between the ages of 12 and 15 this morning at the vaccine clinic in Frandor following the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to begin administering Pfizer vaccines to 12-15-year-olds on May 12.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend that kids as young as 12 begin to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
“This is a tremendous development in our fight against COVID-19,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said in a press release. “Case rates in this age group have been high, and due to sports or school exposures, many children in this age range have had to quarantine. The vaccine will give 12-15 year olds significant protection from COVID-19. It is a step toward normalcy for this age group and will contribute to community immunity.”
Sparrow is accepting appointments at all vaccination sites, effective immediately. Jon Baker, the Director of Laboratories for Sparrow, said that they have an ample amount of vaccines in stock and the procedure is the same with the addition of 12 to 15-year-olds.
“It's basically the same procedures that we've been using for 16 to 18-year-old group with the Pfizer vaccine, so no significant changes,” Baker said. “It's the same dose, same schedule.”
Evan Yaney, a 13-year-old Grand Ledge resident, was one of the first children to receive the vaccine through Sparrow this morning. Evan was diagnosed with leukemia at two years old and battled against it until he was seven, according to his dad, Kent Yaney. Evan was Sparrow’s Miracle Child in 2012.
Evan said he did not think much about being one of the first kids between 12 and 15 to receive the shot and was excited to see his grandparents and friends again without worry.
“The reason why I want to get the vaccine was because since the numbers have been up, I haven't been able to see one of my friends,” Evan said. “And also because I want to see my grandpa and I just don't want to feel like 'Oh, I'm going to be the reason how we get COVID' even though I was vaccinated.”
“I mean I'm obviously not the first kid to have it, but to be like one of the first kids and essentially be a guinea pig, I enjoy it," Evan said. "I mean, I don't really enjoy enjoy it. I don't really think anything about it.”
Kent said that Sparrow reached out to have Evan vaccinated and they jumped at the opportunity.
“He's been waiting a long time for this," Kent said. "He hasn't been able to see his grandpa in quite some time, he has lymphoma. So very excited for that, very excited to be able to go out to restaurants, waterparks, things like that. And just for safety overall.”
Evan’s face remained stoic as Dr. Annette Kopachik administered the first COVID-19 vaccine. Evan said it didn’t hurt because he received countless shots while fighting against leukemia.
“I mean, it didn't hurt,” Evan said. “I've done this like 1,000 times because I've been in the hospital like 1,000 times. So it didn't really hurt, I just don't like needles.”
Other kids were also there to receive the first dose along with their parent or guardian, which is recommended by Sparrow for all minors receiving the vaccine.
The hope, according to Kopachik, is that lowering the age limit for the vaccine will bring society a step closer to the end of the pandemic.
“I guess I'd say that just that the more shots we can get in arms, the sooner we can get out from under this and the kids going back to school, they'll feel more comfortable,” Kopachik said. “Everyone will feel more comfortable if they've been able to get vaccinated and we can all get back to normal life again.”
Sparrow prepared for the approval of the 12-15 year-old group to be vaccinated with amenities for kids such as suckers for after the shot or a device called a shot-blocker to mitigate the pain readily available at each vaccination site within the clinic.
Cindy Meteyer, a pediatric nurse practitioner working at the vaccination clinic, said that the child’s life team at Sparrow has been working to make the vaccination process less traumatizing for kids and one of the main recommendations was the shot blockers.
“These are these simple little devices that have little gentle blunt spikes on the backside,” said Meteyer. “And when you can apply the pressure of the shot blocker above the site of the vaccination that kind of confuses the nerves. It works by pain control, the gate control theory of pain, where then you stimulate all those nerves and then they don't feel the shot as much. So it's one of the things that we've done to really make this experience less traumatizing for kids.”
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Evan said he would have been fine without the shot blocker, but did not even feel the needle with it.
“Yeah, it helps because you feel that other thing (shot blocker) around it,” Evan said. “And, you know if I stub my toe or something I sometimes do that, like pinch myself so I don't feel that I just feel pinching because my brain focuses on the new pain. I say it helps. Eight out of ten.”
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