DOH-Pinellas scheduling COVID-19 appointments for ages 12-15

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in ages 12-15, as well as those 16 and up.

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is scheduling appointments for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12-15, as well as those 16 and up.

Four of its centers will offer the two-dose vaccine on a rotating schedule that starts on Monday, May 17. Vaccines are available at no cost with an appointment. A parent or guardian must accompany minors to that appointment.

To make an appointment, call 727-824-6931. Appointments are available for ages 12 and up.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration agreed May 10 to allow expanded use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for ages 12-15. The previous authorization capped the use at ages 16 and up.

Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, said, “Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic. Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”

On May 12, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released a statement saying the agency had endorsed its Advisory’s Committee recommendation that the Pfizer vaccine be used for ages 12-15.

“Though most children with COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms, some children can get severely ill and require hospitalization. There have also been rare, tragic cases of children dying from COVID-19 and its effects, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C,” Walensky said.

According to the FDA, from March 1, 2020 through April 30, about 1.5 million COVID-19 cases in ages 11 -17 years of age had been reported to the CDC.

DOH-Pinellas will offer vaccinations at the Clearwater center, 310 N. Myrtle Ave., and the St. Petersburg Center, 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N., on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Vaccines will be available on Tuesday and Thursday at the Mid-County center, 8751 Ulmerton Road in Largo, and starting May 24, at the Pinellas Park Health Department, 6350 76th Ave. N.

The vaccine is administered as a series of two doses, three weeks apart, which is the same for those ages 16 years and older. It takes two weeks after the second shot to be considered fully vaccinated and 28 days for the single-shot dose of Johnson & Johnson.

Vaccines for those 12-15 also are available at some local pharmacies, but not all.

Walmart sent Tampa Bay Newspapers an email stating it was offering the Pfizer vaccine to those ages 12-15 at Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies.

Publix offers only Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, which have been approved for use in ages 18 and up. Others have Pfizer, Moderna and/or Johnson & Johnson according to availability. CVS says on its website that Pfizer is only available at select stores.

Links to the pharmacies websites and more information is available at https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/vaccines/.

As of May 11, 13,271 individuals in Pinellas ages 16-24 had completed the one- or two-shot series. The total in the county that had completed a series was 362,100.

DOH-Pinellas reminds parents that it also offers immunizations to children from infants to teens by appointment. Children entering school for the first time and those entering seventh grade can get immunizations during their COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

For information about DOH-Pinellas, go to www.PinellasHealth.com, on Twitter @HealthyPinellas, as well as Facebook and Nextdoor.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.

Revised to add that Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies have Pfizer vaccine available for all eligible patients.