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Oct. 16, 2021

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Spokane Public Schools could provide COVID-19 vaccines to 12- to 18-year-olds beginning Friday

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SPOKANE — Pending state approval, Spokane County students as young as 12 will soon be able to receive COVID-19 vaccinations at North Central High School.

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 18-year-olds. Later on Monday, Spokane Public Schools announced a tentative schedule to administer the vaccine during the next two weeks at five high schools.

“We feel like we’ve saturated the adult vaccine market,” said Becky Doughty, the district’s director of health services. “Now it’s time to start getting our kids vaccinated.”

All students who live in Spokane County are eligible to get the vaccine, Doughty said. Online forms will be available and must be signed by a parent or guardian.

The exact appointment times for Friday’s clinic at North Central have not been settled.

The rest of the schedule for vaccination clinics at the high schools includes Lewis and Clark on May 17-18; Ferris on May 19-20; Shadle Park on May 24-25; and Rogers on May 26-27. All clinics will run from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

As of Monday night, no other districts in Spokane County had made plans to vaccinate students.

Doughty emphasized that all students in the county would be eligible to get vaccinated at the Spokane high schools.

However, Spokane Health District Spokeswoman Kelli Hawkins said Monday that Spokane residents will not be able to make appointments for their children until Washington state authorities approve it for adolescents.

That approval is expected by Wednesday.

Then the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet to approve the change. The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup also will meet to review the findings before it is approved for use in 12- to 15-year-olds in the state.

U.S. regulators on Monday expanded the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 12, offering a way to protect the nation’s adolescents before they head back to school in the fall and paving the way for them to return to more normal activities.

Shots could begin at other clinics offering the Pfizer vaccine as soon as Thursday, after a federal vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations for using the two-dose vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds. An announcement approving the vaccines in Washington state is expected Wednesday.

Most COVID-19 vaccines worldwide have been authorized for adults. Pfizer’s vaccine is being used in multiple countries for teens as young as 16, and Canada recently became the first to expand use to 12 and older.

“This is a watershed moment in our ability to fight back the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president , told the Associated Press on Monday.

The FDA declared the Pfizer vaccine is safe and offers strong protection for younger teens based on testing of more than 2,000 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15. The agency noted there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared with 16 among kids given dummy shots. More intriguing, researchers found the kids developed higher levels of virus-fighting antibodies than earlier studies measured in young adults.

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