Everybody 16 and older now eligible for COVID vaccine but 16- and 17-year-olds will need to travel for shots
An expert in pediatric infectious diseases with Rochester Regional Health is encouraging all young people, 16 years and older, to get vaccinated for COVID-19 but in Genesee County, for 16- and 17-year-olds, getting vaccinated is going to be more difficult.
Of the three vaccines being administered around the state and the nation are from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16- and 17-year-olds.
There are no clinics for the Pfizer vaccine planned for Genesee County, which means 16- and 17-year-olds looking to get vaccinated will need to travel Rochester or Buffalo to get the shot in the arm -- twice.
"We are encouraging the 16 and 17-year-olds to sign up for the state-run vaccine sites that provide the Pfizer vaccine which can vaccinate those who are 16 and older," said Nola Goodrich-Kresse, public information officer for the Genesee County Health Department.
There are several state-run clinics in our region, Goodrich-Kresse said. Individuals aged 16 and 17 can check the state site for vaccine locations and check to make sure they are for the Pfizer vaccine.
"Currently, we do not know when or if Pfizer will be provided again locally," Goodrich-Kresse said.
Dr. Cynthia Christy, associate chief of pediatrics for Rochester General Hospital, who spoke to regional media yesterday to encourage young people to get vaccinated, acknowledged that COVID-19 poses little health risk to most young people but said people age 16 and older should consider what it could mean for people around them if they became contagious.
"I would imagine that teenagers do have the sense that nothing is going to impact them and that if they got it, they would be fine," Christy said. "So I think the angle for them is, well, what about your family? What about your grandparents? You probably would be fine if you got it, but this way will prevent you from impacting anyone you love."
For young people, who have been consistently less susceptible to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, the Pfizer vaccine is believed to be 100-percent effective, Christy said, and the side effects are minimal (slightly sore harm, possible low-grade fever).
"As I said before," Christy said, "tell them 'let's bring this pandemic to an end, let's keep me from getting an infection, and let's keep my family and friends safe.' "
Photo: Dr. Cynthia Christy during video conference with regional media.