Efforts ramp up to vaccinate 12 to 15-year-olds in southeastern Wisconsin

Posted at 5:58 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 18:58:09-04

MILWAUKEE — Vaccinators across southeast Wisconsin have been preparing to give Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to kids as young as 12 years old ahead of a CDC panel's recommendation that came down Wednesday afternoon.

Noel Ray-Ortega and her partner are fully vaccinated. Ray-Ortega has been waiting for that moment when her 15-year-old son Julian could get his shot.

"I feel confident in the science and the research, so we’re really excited," Ray-Ortega said. "He'll be working at a summer camp this summer so I think it'll just be an extra precaution that we can take."

Jefferson County health officials have been working with local school districts to coordinate clinics for Pfizer's vaccine.

They said Johnson Creek School District is set to hold the first one next Wednesday. Walk-ins at the Johnson Creek outlet mall will be available for 12 to 15-year-olds next Thursday between 4:30-6:45 p.m.

"We hope that enough 12 to 15-year-olds will get vaccinated so we start to see less cases in our schools. Because over the past month and a half or so we've seen a pretty rapid increase in cases among that age group," said Samroz Jakvani, an epidemiologist and COVID-19 public information officer for Jefferson County Health Department.

In Kenosha County, public health officials are ready to start giving shots by Friday at their clinic at the old Shopko on 52nd. So far, the health officer Jennifer Freiheit said the county has seen 27 percent of 16 and 17-year-olds get their shots.

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"Because of the numbers that turned out for the 16 and 17 age [group], we're very worried about how many of the 12 to 15 [year olds] will come out. That will sort of guide our countywide strategy on how much more education and how we have to pull them in to get them vaccinated," Freiheit said.

During a Wisconsin Department of Health Services briefing, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard said his 12-year-old had a tentative appointment for his shot on Thursday.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard
Dr. Ryan Westergaard

"We have full confidence in the vaccine. My wife is also a physician and it's something that we're celebrating amongst ourselves," Dr. Westergaard said.

Advocate Aurora plans to start vaccinating this age group on Thursday. Children's Wisconsin and others tell us they are waiting for final state guidance. Some vaccinators stated they need to stock Pfizer's vaccine.

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