KCHD confident with plan to vaccinate children as young as 12

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department continues its preparations to vaccine children as young as 12, as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control recommends giving the vaccine to children between the ages of 12 and 15.

Sherri Young, health officer/executive director of Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (KCHD) told WCHS-AM that 1,400 kids in the school system have signed up through Schoology to receive the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine next week.

On Tuesday, the KCHD also released a letter from twenty pediatricians from Kanawha County joining Dr. Arthur Rubin, president of the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health, advocating for the vaccine for young people.

“We highly recommend and encourage you to see that all children and adolescents ages 12 and over in our area receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” the pediatricians wrote. “Preventing the spread of the virus is how we can continue to return to normal life – school, sports, concerts, and restaurants.”

Young said it’s a good message to send to everyone with vaccine hesitancy.

“They have done the research, they’ve medically acknowledged this is a good vaccine for kids 12-15. It’s their support for the vaccine to help parents feel better about getting it,” Young said.

Sherri Young

The FDA on Monday authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in those aged 12 and older.

“For those who have been in the battle for 450 days, this did not come quick enough,” Young said of the vaccine. “This is a well-vetted vaccine, something we have given hundreds of millions of doses and so the safety is there.”

KCHD recently released detailed plans for 12-15-year-olds that includes:

  • KCHD and partners will offer vaccinations at Kanawha County Schools’ “Summer Academy” June 7 through 30.
  • KCHD and partners will hold a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination clinic geared toward those age 12 and older and their families on Saturday, May 15 at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
  • KCHD will work with multiple camps, fairs and festivals throughout the summer to provide vaccinations for those age 12 and older as well as the general public.
  • Kanawha County will release a public service announcement to motivate those age 12 and older to receive the vaccine, as well as social media campaign and educational material.
  • KCHD will partner with Kanawha County Schools and community partners to hold additional vaccination clinics prior to the beginning of the school year.

Young said the plan is to also get the vaccine into private offices.

“You have a relationship with your physician or your primary care doctor. To be able to walk into your pediatrician’s office or your family doctor’s office to get that vaccine, I think is another level of comfort,” Young said.

Young said there are 7,500 students in the county between the age of 12 and 15. She said while she hopes for 100% participation, the KCHD anticipates just less than half participation. She previously told 580-WCHS it’s important to get these done as quickly as possible upon FDA approval because of kids going away from the summer.

According to Young, the efficacy for those between the age of 12-15 is close to 100% while it’s 95% of 16 years and older.