The availability of Covid-19 vaccines for children and teens ages 12 to 15 has been met with mixed reviews by local residents.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for that age range on May 10, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention green-lighted it on May 12. Hours later, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave it the OK.
While elected officials and hospitals across Long Island have begun hosting news events to administer the first dose of vaccines to children and teenagers, some parents have expressed concerns about inoculating their children in response to an inquiry on an Oceanside community Facebook page.
Sandee Mcphee was one parent who said she was opposed to it. “I’m totally against the cheesy, pushy marketing of a medical treatment,” she wrote. “There was no high risk in this age group. They are also not testing to check on antibodies beforehand.”
Chris Lindsley said he also did not plan to vaccinate his son. “I’m not risking his health when Covid is not a threat to him,” he wrote.
Dina Person said she did not favor vaccinating people in that age group, and noted that players and staff of the New York Yankees were fully vaccinated, but the team dealt with a Covid-19 outbreak last week. Eight players tested positive for the virus, seven of whom were asymptomatic.
“We will not be getting it for our children,” Person wrote. “I just worked all year in a school where Covid was not spread through school and the very few teens who did get it had very mild symptoms and recovered quickly. The Covid numbers are down, and we just saw on the news that the people fully vaccinated with the Yankees still got Covid.”
Joe Glavin offered a different perspective, noting that the only way to return to normal is to vaccinate more people.
“Stop with the nonsense,” he wrote. “Get the shot or probably be locked out of college and other activities. Just saying . . . you’ll be screwed when you want to do something.”
Paul Florio wrote that he was confused why so many people were determined to get the vaccine themselves, but refused to allow their children to be inoculated.
“What gets me is that all people that feel the vaccine is a must now turn around and say, ‘No way my kid is getting it,’” he wrote. “If it’s that important for parents to get it, why not the kid? I would think it goes hand in hand.”
As the vaccine continues to become available to more people, the CDC has relaxed masking guidelines for fully vaccinated people at most indoor and outdoor places.
Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside has also continued to operate its “Vaxmobile,” extending its efforts to now vaccinating those ages 12 to 15. On Thursday afternoon, MSSN staff started giving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to some of the newly eligible youths at St. Mary of the Isle Roman Catholic Church in Long Beach. Among them was Grace Moran, 13, an eighth-grader at Lincoln Orens Middle School in Island Park, who said she was thrilled to receive her dose.
“I’m very excited to be getting the shot today,” she said, according to a news release from the hospital, noting that she was not nervous about the immunization because she “believes in science.”
The mobile vaccination unit was funded via the federal CARES Act through a grant issued by the Town of Hempstead, and has administered more than 2,000 Covid-19 vaccinations since it began operation in late March. The primary mission of the unit is to deliver vaccinations to eligible residents, while eliminating barriers such as transportation, mobility, language or health, and to bring vaccines directly to hard-hit communities, as well as other areas. Appointments are not required, and the mobile unit is handicapped-accessible and staffed with a bilingual clinical team from MSSN. The interior of the unit includes a private exam room, computerized clinical work stations, medical testing and lab technologies, as well as secure storage areas.
The “Vaxmobile” continued onto the De La Salle School in Freeport on Friday. With vaccinations increasing, the number of Covid-19 cases at the hospital has steadily decreased. As of Friday, there were nine coronavirus patients at MSSN.
In addition to the hospital’s mobile vaccination efforts, Nassau County officials said they planned to inoculate 500 high school students a day through Sunday, and were taking appointments on the county website. County Executive Laura Curran spoke in favor of the CDC easing mask restrictions, and urged residents to have their eligible youths vaccinated.
“Nassau County is leading the way in getting residents vaccinated, and I’m proud that we’ve now gotten seven out of 10 adults vaccinated,” Curran said in a statement. “However, in order to soundly defeat this pandemic and return to normal life, we need as many people as possible to roll up their sleeves — including young people.”