BOSTON (WPRI) – While focusing on increasing adolescent and adolescent vaccinations before it’s time to go back to school, Massachusetts state lawmakers are also focusing on the population most state youth.
The Joint Committee on Public Health and the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management held a public oversight hearing to discuss COVID-19 vaccinations for children.
State health officials noted that they expected federal regulators to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in children under 12 this fall.
Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders explained how the state must be prepared to deploy vaccines quickly if emergency use is permitted.
âUnlike the first months of the vaccine rollout, there is now a stock of vaccine available,â Sudders said.
âNow we must continue to provide strong public messages, continue to work with all of our communities to build confidence, support each other hard and be ready to provide vaccines to our young people,â she continued.
According to Mass. DPH Weekly COVID-19 Vaccination Report As of July 22, 57% of Massachusetts residents aged 12 to 15 have received at least one dose, compared to 36% nationally. The report also shows that 64% of adolescents aged 16 to 19 have received at least one dose, compared to 47% nationally.
“I am giving you these statistics not to gloat over, but to remind us as leaders that we have an obligation and an opportunity to bend even further to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” Sudders said.
According to Sudders, the state is actively planning pediatric vaccinations, including communicating with pediatricians, parents and schools. The state will continue to think outside the box to increase vaccination rates.
âWe will continue to focus on increasing access to vaccines by applying a wide range of strategies and settings ranging from pediatric and primary care offices to museums, schools, retail pharmacies, community health centers and all. which makes sense to us. ,” she said.
According to the acting commissioner of Mass. DPH, Margaret Cook, collaborations with pediatricians have led Massachusetts to have one of the highest pediatric immunization rates in the country.
âMore than 95% of all children have their CDC-recommended vaccines by the time they start school,â Cook said.
Cook noted that when Pfizer’s emergency use authorization was extended to 12-15 year olds, advisories were issued directly to pediatric care providers.
âTo date, more than 74,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been shipped directly to pediatric offices. Over 65,000 of these doses have already been administered, âshe said.
She noted that the state plans to use the same strategy when COVID-19 vaccines for ages 12 and under are approved. This will make more than 880,000 Massachusetts residents more eligible for vaccination, according to Cook.
âThis will inevitably increase Massachusetts’ already high vaccination rates. This will reduce the chances of variants, it will provide an extra layer of protection when the children return to school and it will bring the Commonwealth even closer to community and herd immunity, âCook said.
Cook says the state âtrust the facts. Get the vax âThe statewide public awareness campaign has shifted to trying to engage with parents.
âWe know that parents and guardians have a lot of questions about the vaccine and their children’s immunizations,â Cook said.
The latest public service announcements, according to Cook, feature pediatricians speaking to parents. She says that in addition to Spanish public service announcements, ten other languages ââare available.
Officials say they are also planning a statewide initiative to increase vaccination rates among students ages 12 to 18, which includes an educational awareness campaign, using social media, as well as clinics. on site in schools and mobile clinics in health centers and pediatric practices.
âThe department and DESE are finalizing a second joint letter to superintendents and directors, emphasizing a strong recommendation for vaccinations, a formal call to action to host on-site clinics in schools, especially for children who receive their primary care in schools, and target measures for the vaccination rates of students and teachers, âCook said.
Cook also noted that once the school year has started and children return to class, the tests will be free and available to all schools.