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Ochsner, LCMC to begin giving Pfizer COVID vaccine shots to adolescents after CDC authorization

Public health experts say having some kids vaccinated with help reduce spread of the virus
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 10:53 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For months adults have been getting Pfizer’s two-dose coronavirus vaccine in Louisiana and now health care entities are ready to begin giving the shots to adolescents starting on Thursday.

The CDC gave the green light for the shots to be administered to children 12 and up on Thursday.

LCMC Health and Ochsner Health said they are prepared to begin giving the shots.

Dr. William Lennarz is with Ochsner Health, the largest health system in Louisiana.

“And in this age group, the studies show that actually, the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 and completely safe. So, even stronger results than initial adult studies,” said Lennarz.

He said having adolescents able to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will help to slow the spread of the virus.

“Is a huge step forward in our progress against COVID-19,” said Lennarz.

Ochsner is involved in clinical trials for children.

“So, this EUA that is currently being approved includes children here that are local because they were enrolled,” said Dr. Julia Garcia Diaz.

The Louisiana Department of Health is thrilled that kids age 12 and older can now be vaccinated.

Dr. Joe Kanter is Louisiana’s State Health Officer.

“The Louisiana Department of Health has complete confidence in our federal partners’ decision to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents age 12 to 15. We are very excited about the opportunity to protect additional age groups and their families with this highly safe and effective vaccine,” said Kanter.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed the agency’s advisory panel’s recommendation that the Pfizer vaccine is used in adolescents and said providers could begin administering the shots right away.

Doctors say some kids do get very ill from the virus.

“We also don’t want parents and the public to think that children are not at any risk when they get COVID-19 infection. And in fact, here at Ochsner Hospital for Children, we continue to care for dozens of children who have had more serious effects including the multi-system inflammatory syndrome,” said Lennarz.

Vaccine hesitancy among adults in Louisiana remains an issue.

Dr. Sandy Kemmerly is an infectious disease physician at Ochsner.

“We would suggest that parents who have not taken the vaccine talk to their pediatrician about the benefits in their child,” she said.

And doctors say even though some kids will soon be getting the shots in their arms, it remains important for adults to be vaccinated given that variants or mutations of the virus are swirling around.

Ochsner says it will offer the shots to children 12 and up at all of its Pfizer vaccination events and at vaccine clinics or during community events. People can go to MyOchsner or call to sign up for the shots.

LCMC Health says as vaccines become available to children it is urging the public to log on to lcmchealth.org/vaccine or call 504-290-5200 to register for an appointment at one of its hospital vaccination clinics. Visit www.lcmchealth.org/vaccine for more information.

Also, at the end of the month, LCMC Health will cease operations at the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The last day of operations will be May 29.

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