Health officials prepare for vaccine approval for ages 12 through 15

Posted at 7:56 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 21:56:15-04

GALLATIN COUNTY  — It’s May, and the country’s in a much better position with vaccine distribution than we were a few months ago, and we'll likely soon be able to vaccinate some children under the age of 16.

“There’s been recent release from the literature and from Pfizer that there’s soon to be FDA approval for the age group of 12 to 15-year-olds,” said Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Annie Hansen.

Up until this point, only people 16 and older have been approved, but soon that will extend to those as young as 12-years-old with the Pfizer vaccine.

“There’s no difference. We’re just looking at… the trials, we’re looking at the response because we know that children aren’t just little adults, their immune systems function differently,” Hansen said.

And soon parents of that age bracket will have a decision to make.

“My oldest daughter has been talking with me a lot. She actually is very interested in getting vaccinated. You know we will definitely be looking into it,” said Leslie Atkinson, mom of a 13-year-old.

“I’m not opposed to vaccinations, and I feel like if other people want to get vaccinated, that’s great. That’s their own personal choice. I’m not like adamantly against it. I just feel that at this point and time it hasn’t been tested, so for our family I believe that the right choice is to not do it for our kids,” said the mom of a 12 and 14-year-old.

Both parents agree it should be a choice left up to families, but who would determine if it’s required for public school vaccination records?

“That would be out of my jurisdiction. That would definitely be part of the legislators and the policy makers, and I don’t believe our office would have anything to do with that. If indeed it does become a mandate from the federal government or our policy makers here in Montana that’s when the agency will further understand and wrap this for our over 400 school districts,” said Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen.

Right now, Pfizer is waiting for the final approval from the FDA.

The FDA is expected to make its decision Friday, May 7. But the CDC also has to approve it, and they’re expected to meet next Wednesday, May 12. If approved, Bozeman Health will begin offering the vaccine to those age 12 through 15 on Thursday, May 13.