Norton Children's Vaccine Clinic 05-12-21

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Norton Healthcare is prepared to start scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations and administering shots for children as young as 12 on Thursday as federal regulators lower age restrictions on Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use of the vaccine for those between 12 and 15 years old Monday, and an advisory panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended its use for adolescents and teenagers as young as 12.

Craig Johnson, vice president of operations with Norton Medical Group, said Wednesday that more than 3,000 youths have preregistered for the Pfizer vaccine through the Norton Children’s website in less than a week.

“We are excited by that number, I’ll say that,” he said. “It hopefully is a sign that this community is continuing to want to get vaccinated.”

Vaccinations for those between 12 and 15 years old will be available at any of Norton’s vaccine locations, including two new sites launching Thursday near Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Medical Center, he said. Parents will need to come with their children and provide consent before vaccinations are administered, he said.

Norton’s vaccination site at Young Elementary School will also administer COVID-19 shots for youths, Johnson said.

“We’ll have six sites in total,” he said, noting Norton believes it can handle between 8,000 and 10,000 vaccination appointments per week. “... It will dramatically expand access to care for our patients, particularly our pediatric patients.”

Johnson encouraged families to speak with their pediatricians about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and he said Norton would host a Facebook Live discussion on the subject at noon Thursday and post information about the vaccine on its website.

“I definitely think having that conversation with a pediatrician is an important step to take,” he said.

Renee Murphy, head of communications and community relations for Jefferson County Public Schools, said the district is in contact with Norton, University of Louisville Health and Louisville Metro about expanding vaccination access to those as young as 12.

U of L Health operates the district’s vaccination sites at Doss High School and Fairdale High School, and Louisville Metro’s LouVax site vaccinated many JCPS employees.

“We have sites in operation right now, so we’ll have to see what happens here over the next week or so in terms of what is approved,” Murphy said Wednesday. “We’ll continue to remain in communication with community partners, and we’ll see what kind of access can be provided at our school locations from there.”

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