How Jefferson County plans to meet challenge of vaccinating teens

Updated: Apr. 1, 2021 at 10:55 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Next week, New York will offer the COVID vaccine to anyone 16 and up. But 16 and 17 year olds are limited to which dose they can get. We looked into how Jefferson County plans to meet this new logistical challenge.

As the state plans to open up its eligibility pool on Tuesday, there’s a catch: 16 and 17 year olds can only get the Pfizer vaccine. Dr. Joseph Wetterhahn of Samaritan Medical Center says that’s the only one approved for them.

“And there’s no reason to think that the other vaccines won’t be approved for adolescents as well,” he said.

Dr. Wetterhahn says it’s unclear when that will happen. But for now, it’s a challenge for Jefferson County.

“Right now, we’re handling mostly Moderna,” said Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott Gray.

But Gray says they have gotten Pfizer to the county in the past and they will do it again.

“It just all comes down to us being very aggressive. Minute that we hear vaccine is available, we jump at the chance to take it,” he said.

Gray says the other issue is inspiring the younger generation to get vaccinated. Dr. Wetterhahn says even though they are at a lower risk, they still need to get the shot.

“We also want to protect the people around these adolescents. Their teachers, the people who work at their school, their coaches, their parents, their grandparents,” said Dr. Wetterhahn.

Gray says Jefferson County is expecting about 1,000 vaccines next week. There’s no word yet on which vaccines will be in that shipment.

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