SMITH CENTER, Kan. – The staffs at Smith County Health Department and Smith County Memorial received the official word from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 has been approved to administer to individuals ages 12 and up.
“The research on this age group of 12 to 15 years old is really outstanding,” said Dr. Ferrill Conant, a family physician at Smith County Memorial Hospital and the county’s medical director. “The vaccine is essentially 100 percent effective on children in this age range.”
Since the news of the update, the groups have been working together to determine the best way to administer COVID-19 vaccines to this age group.
“We are looking for new ways to administer vaccine that is more convenient for parents,” said Allen Van Driel, CEO at the hospital. “We encourage parents to talk with their children’s providers about the vaccine and sign up on the county-wide website, scmhks.org/vaccinerequest.”
Conant goes on to say that in addition to the vaccine being extremely effective, it is also proven to be very safe.
“The research continues to show a low number of severe reactions and, in fact, the numbers are much lower for people 12-25 than older ages,” Conant said. “While there will still likely be some side effects like sore arms or low-grade fever for some, the overall result of complete immunity to COVID-19 is worth the short-term inconvenience.”
Like all other immunizations, the COVID-19 vaccine will be addressed during well-child checks and but because of the need to administer it in groups, the vaccine will not be given during these routine appointments. Just like other immunizations, parents can refuse the COVID-19 shot, however, Conant hopes parents take advantage of the opportunity to have a conversation and ask questions to learn more.
“The update in the vaccine protocols is especially helpful as we enter the summer and consider all the group activities kids will participate in,” Conant said. “Smith Center has a new pool opening and summer sports and camps are on a lot of parents’ minds since last year children didn’t get to experience much of a typical summer.”
Van Driel echoes Conant’s excitement over the research results and the opportunity to safeguard more of our population against the virus.
“We are thankful for this update and know it will allow more people within our county and the area of North Central Kansas to be vaccinated,” said Allen Van Driel, CEO at the hospital. “We hope parents take this update seriously and sign their children up for the vaccine.”
To request the vaccine, sign up on the county-wide website scmhks.org/vaccinerequest.