YKHC Anticipates Starting COVID-19 Vaccinations For Ages 12-15 On May 13

May 12, 2021

YKHC staff unpack vials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 16, 2020 in Bethel, Alaska.
Credit Katie Basile / KYUK

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation could begin vaccinating 12-15 year olds against COVID-19 as soon as May 13. That’s if a federal advisory committee with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorses the Pfizer vaccine for this age group, which is expected to happen May 12.

If the vaccine is endorsed, YKHC would begin vaccinating 12-15 year olds in Bethel right after the recommendation from the CDC comes in. Vaccinations in villages would begin the following week. YKHC estimates that about 2,800 teenagers in this age group live in the region. Each teen would need written permission from a parent to be vaccinated.

YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges began encouraging parents and guardians to sign up their 12-15 year olds for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in April.

“I think it’s a great way to keep our kids safe, and I know all of us are sort of desperate to get our kids back in school and get back to school sports. This is our way to get there: by vaccinating that age group,” Hodges told KYUK in April.

Vaccinating that age group could also help keep students in the classroom. Under CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine after exposure to someone who’s tested positive for the virus.

“Right now, if we have a kid in the school who tests positive, we have to quarantine anyone who’s been within 6 feet of that kid. So this will allow us to really keep the schools open and keep everything much safer,” Hodges said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds earlier this week on May 10.

Pfizer’s clinic trial data shows the vaccine is 100% effective at preventing COVID-19 in this age group. In the trial, 1,131 teenagers received the vaccine. None developed symptoms of COVID-19, and no serious side effects occurred. Results show the vaccine to be more effective in this age group than in adults. Overall, 2,260 teenagers participated in the trial. Of the 1,129 teenagers who received placebos, 18 developed COVID-19.

YKHC encourages all parents and guardians of 12-15 year olds to sign up their teenager for the vaccine either on YKHC’s website or by calling YKHC toll-free at 1-800-478-6599.

Tune into KYUK 640AM for a YKHC virtual town hall on May 13 at 6:30 p.m. to get your questions answered about the COVID-19 vaccine and related topics, including the anticipated rollout of the vaccine for 12-15 year olds.

Zoom meeting link:

Call in phone number: 888-788-0099

Or listen to the YKHC town hall live on KYUK 640AM May 13 beginning at 6:30 p.m.