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HEALTHY LIVING: Health department working to vaccinate county’s teens

For a little over a month, the Lawrence County Health Department has been working to administer the COVID-19 to teenagers in the county.

“We started as soon as they opened up,” Angela Doyle, director of nursing for the department, said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said, during the first week of May, that eligibility to receive the vaccine was open to those ages 12 and older.

The governor’s decision follows that of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, who have approved vaccination for teens as well.

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began in December 2020, beginning with health workers and those 80 and older, then eligibility was gradually lowered in following months as more vaccines became available.

Doyle spoke at a vaccination clinic that was set up at Ironton Middle School on June 11. A similar event had taken place for Symmes Valley Schools the preceding day.

Doyle said the department has been visiting all school districts in the county and that they were now on their second round of visits.

The health department also hosted a special clinic for high school students in early May at the South Point Board of Education offices, the site of their weekly vaccine clinics. That event was timed so that students could receive both doses of a vaccine before prom and graduation events.

Doyle said attendance for the events has varied and that there is a possibility that the state may open up the vaccine to those under 12.

“There are studies and they are hoping to push that through sooner, rather than later,” she said, adding that the department is keeping watch on all updates.

Three vaccines, Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson, are available for the general population, but Doyle said only the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses, is allowed for those under 18.

Doyle said the department will continue to offer vaccines to youth in the county, with follow-up events, as well as their weekly clinic on Wednesdays at the South Point location.

More information can be found on the health department’s Facebook page or by calling 740-532-3962.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also urged that children 12 and older get the Pfizer vaccine — and agreed that it is fine to give more than one vaccine at the same time, especially for kids who are behind on their regular vaccinations.

Children are far less likely than adults to get seriously ill from COVID-19, but they do sometimes die, and thousands have been hospitalized. By last month, those ages 12 to 17 were making up slightly more of the nation’s new coronavirus infections than adults over 65, a group that’s now largely vaccinated.

Side effects are the same as adults experience, mostly sore arms and flu-like fever, chills or aches that signal the immune system is revving up.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story