Grundy County provides COVID-19 update

Pfizer vaccine can be given to children 12 and over; Moderna, Johnson & Johnson for 18 and over

MORRIS – Children as young as 12 now are eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, including at vaccination sites run by the Grundy County Health Department, the health department said in a Thursday news release.

Last week, federal regulators expanded eligibility for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to include children as young as 12, according to the release. The announcement comes after separate reviews by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the Pfizer vaccine’s safety and efficacy in those ages 12 to 15.

The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines remain authorized only for those age 18 and older.

The Grundy County Health Department began offering appointments for the Pfizer vaccine to children as young as 12 on Friday, according to the release. Those interested in getting vaccinated can register by visiting www.grundyhealth.com or calling 815-941-3404. The health department updates its website at the start of each week, listing available clinics for that week.

Minors ages 12 and 13 years old need to be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. Minors between 14 and 17 years old may be accompanied by an adult who is not a parent or legal guardian, but they are required to bring a completed Minor Consent Form to the appointment, per the Consent by Minors to Health Care Services Act. The form, which designates the adult who will accompany the minor, must be completed and signed by a parent or legal guardian of the minor. The form is available on the Grundy County Health Department’s website, www.grundyhealth.com.

Grundy County’s vaccination site at the former Shabbona School, 725 School St. in Morris, remains supported through the assistance of local volunteers, the state National Guard and contractual nurses. Appointments are offered to any Illinois resident of the appropriate age.

About the expansion of the Pfizer vaccine to those 12 to 15 years old

The FDA on May 10 declared that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and offers strong protection for younger teens based on testing of more than 2,000 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, The Associated Press reported. Pfizer’s study found no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated teens, compared with 18 among study participants who were given placebos. Researchers also found that the adolescents who received the Pfizer vaccine developed higher levels of virus-fighting antibodies than earlier studies measured in young adults.

The younger teens received the same vaccine dosage as adults and had the same side effects, mostly sore arms and flu-like fever, chills or aches that signal a revved-up immune system, the AP reported.

On May 12, the CDC’s independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved the FDA’s recommendation to expand the Pfizer vaccine’s emergency use authorization to include children as young as 12. The CDC also changed its guidance to allow children and adults to get other vaccines at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine, saying the COVID-19 vaccines have proved safe and health care workers can decide whether to administer other vaccines at the same time, the AP reported. Previously, the CDC recommended not getting other vaccines within two weeks of getting a COVID-19 shot as a safety precaution to watch for side effects.

Moderna also is seeking to expand the age group eligible for its vaccine, but the FDA and CDC have not yet reviewed findings from Moderna’s study of those between the ages of 12 and 17, the AP reported. Both Moderna and Pfizer have begun trials in children as young as 6 months, with Pfizer official saying the company expects to report initial findings from the study in the fall, the AP reported.

• Associated Press writers Lauran Neergaard, Candice Choi, Mike Stobbe, Ron Harris and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.