YKHC anticipates starting COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 12 to 15 Thursday

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Organization (YKHC) plans to begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals ages 12 to 15 years Thursday.

The Federal Drug Administration authorized use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 12-to-15 year-olds Monday. Pending an anticipated endorsement by an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday, YKHC will start vaccinating people ages 12 to 15 in Bethel Thursday. Vaccinations in villages are expected to start next week.

“We are excited to be able to offer the vaccine to children 12 to 15 years old,” said YKHC’s Chief of Staff Ellen Hodges. “Vaccinating children in this age group will help make our schools safer. It also increases the percentage of the total population that has received the vaccine, bringing us closer to our normal ways of life.”

Since early April, YKHC has worked with parents to register their 12-to-15 year-olds to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available. Parents of children under 18 years old are required to provide written permission for their child to receive the vaccine. YKHC estimates there are about 2800 children 12 to 15 years old in the YK Delta.

In its application to the FDA for approval of the vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old, Pfizer reported the vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 infection in this age group. More than 100 million people, including more than 12,000 residents on the YK Delta, have safely received the COVID-19 vaccine so far. Getting the vaccine protects people and communities from COVID-19. It makes opening schools safer.

While COVID-19 case rates in the Delta have declined since this winter, this virus continues to be a health risk. The vaccine is the most effective tool in preventing COVID-19.

“Vaccinating as many people in the YK Delta is key to ending this pandemic. The vaccine is safe and highly effective,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bates, “I encourage folks to continue following our guidance around mitigation strategies and test if they are symptomatic. We can get through this together.”

To register 12-to-15 year olds to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, visit https://tinyurl.com/y7reeyst or call 1-800-478-6599. If you have questions about the vaccine, ask your healthcare provider or visit www.ykhc.org/vaccine.

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COVID-19: Call Before Seeking Care

If you have symptoms like a fever, cough or shortness of breath, do not go to your village clinic and do not go to the Emergency Room in Bethel. Instead, call your village clinic, or in Bethel, call 543-6949.