Some 87 percent of Nassau County’s adult population, ages 18 and up, has received at least a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Bravo, Nassau! That’s a remarkable statistic, well ahead of the state average of 79.3 percent. Nearly a million people have been vaccinated here, and we could soon reach that threshold.
But here’s the thing: Looking at all age groups in the county, only 73 percent of the total population has gotten at least one dose. That’s because children are ineligible, and only about 49 percent of teenagers, ages 12 to 18, had received a first dose as of last Friday, even though 16- and 17-year-olds have been eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine since April, and 12- to 15-year-olds since May.
Clearly, we must focus our efforts on vaccinating teens. With school starting in many districts this week, and therefore with students starting to congregate in large groups five to six days a week, there is the potential for the virus to spread rapidly in this population, and then to be passed on to unvaccinated adults and even to the relatively small number of vaccinated people who will get Covid despite being inoculated.
Nassau County government now has an excellent program that brings a team of vaccinators to a workplace on request. It’s all about making the vaccine readily available to people who are too busy or otherwise unable to break away from work to get inoculated. The Herald Community Newspapers took part last Friday afternoon, and the vaccination team did all the work.
Similarly, the county and the Town of Hempstead, each of which has a mobile inoculation unit, should bring the vaccination fight to our schools, one by one, starting in low-income areas, where parents may be unable to take their teens to a vaccination site because they’re working long hours and worry about taking time off. We’ve already seen mobile units brought to a small number of school districts like Freeport, but the effort should be rapidly expanded to all 54 Nassau districts.
At the same time, parents should seek to have their teens vaccinated. With the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine receiving full approval by the federal Food and Drug Administration for those 16 and over, we should all feel confident about its efficacy and safety. It will now be marketed as Comirnaty, according to the FDA. For those ages 12 to 15, the Pfizer vaccine will continue to be available under an emergency-use authorization.
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are likely to receive FDA approval for 12- to 17-year-olds in the coming months.
Clinical trials are still under way to test all three vaccines for children ages 5 to 11. It’s uncertain when, precisely, they might receive approval under emergency-use authorization for this age group. It could be as early as this fall, though that seems unlikely now. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that authorization would more likely come by late December.
The bottom line for parents: Have your children vaccinated as soon as humanly possible.