Kids as young as 12 start getting Pfizer vaccine in Tampa Bay area

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Posted at 6:51 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 23:34:18-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Younger kids in the Tampa Bay area rolled up their sleeves Thursday for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Local vaccination sites started giving shots to kids as young as 12 years old after the CDC gave its approval on Wednesday.

“It was just a little pinch,” said 12-year-old Luke Martinez-Monfort. “It just reminds you of the normal flu shot. Nothing too big.”

Martinez-Monfort is in sixth grade and showed up with his mom to the Raymond James vaccination site in Tampa for a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.

“Everyone kind of agrees that we all just want to get back to normal and what we used to know and just live our childhood like kids,” said Martinez-Monfort.

On Wednesday, the CDC Director released a statement saying the CDC now recommends the Pfizer COVID vaccine be used for 12 to 15-year-olds and that providers could start vaccinating them right away.

At state-supported vaccination sites, people 12 to 17 must be with a parent or guardian to get the Pfizer vaccine. The Florida Division of Emergency Management says the COVID-19 Consent and Screening form has been updated. It says all state-supported vaccination sites have the new form, and people will be able to fill it out on site.

By the end of the day Thursday, the Division said state supported vaccination sites vaccinated approximately 300 12-15 year olds.

“I just came out here, waited for 15 minutes,” said Carter Klakring, a 15-year-old who got the vaccine. “It really didn’t take very long at all. No line, not a huge issue, and now I’m glad to have it.”

The CDC Director said their action opened vaccination to about 17 million adolescents in the United States. ABC Action News looked into the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health. Vaccination data through Wednesday shows more than 590,000 total people in Florida age 16 to 24 have had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

“This past year has been an ordeal, and it’s been a pain to get through, so it’s just nice to finally be able to start getting back to normal, be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said 15-year-old Ethan Russ, who got the vaccine.

This week, ABC Action News reached out to local school districts to see if they plan on hosting COVID vaccine clinics for students. While some said they didn’t have plans at this time, Hillsborough County Schools said their district will be working with the local Department of Health over the summer on clinics to make sure families who want their child to have the vaccine will have access.

Stephanie Klakring is a school nurse, who came with her 15-year-old son, Carter, to get vaccinated.

“I’m hoping that moving forward, a good number of them get vaccinated, we can look at next school year, and roll it out as a normal school year,” said Klakring.

"I want him to have a more normal school year next year. We did in person learning and wore the masks and plan on still keeping the masks," said Kim Vonburg, who brought 15- year old John Vonburg to receive his first dose.

"I think it will be a great role model for younger students to also do the same and protect themselves," said John.

CVS said starting today, participating CVS Pharmacy locations in Florida will start administering the Pfizer vaccine to this age group.

"As pharmacists we are the most accessible healthcare providers out in our communities and that is why it would be a comfort to the children that would be brought in because we are your local pharmacists," said CVS pharmacist Johanna Ritchie.

Walgreens said they’re now offering Pfizer’s vaccine to ages 12 and up based on FDA and CDC recommendations.

"Vaccinations save lives and they are going to allow us to start to live our lives and return to normalcy. We are living amidst a pandemic. We want our kids to feel safe. We don’t want them to be scared," said Sonya Collins, a pharmacy manager at a Temple Terrace Walgreens.

Here are other locations around the Tampa Bay area:

Hillsborough County: Locations minors can get vaccinated at in Hillsborough County are:

  • Raymond James Stadium, Lot 14
    • 4201 N. Himes, Tampa, FL 33607
    • Daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    • Vehicle not required
    • No appointment required
  • Children's Board
    • 1002 E Palm Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
    • Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Closed 4th Thursday of each month
    • Vehicle not required
    • No appointment required
  • Larry Sanders Sports Complex
  • Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 6
    • 1331 McKay Street, Tampa, FL 33602
    • Daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Vehicle not required

Pinellas County: The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County has started scheduling appointments for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines for students who are 12-to-15 years old, per new guidelines. Four of its centers will offer the two-dose vaccine on a rotating schedule that starts on Monday, May 17.

  • Vaccines are provided at no cost with an appointment and the parent or guardian must accompany the minor. To make an appointment at the St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Mid-County or Pinellas Park centers, call (727) 824-6931.
  • Vaccines will be provided in St. Petersburg and Clearwater on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; at Mid-County and Pinellas Park, they will be provided on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (The Pinellas Park center will reopen during the week of May 24.)

Dr. Becky Pruitt, who owns Premier Care Pediatrics, said they're working to help families find vaccination sites and fielding questions from parents.

"The biggest concern is that it’s a new vaccine and so the side effects and long term effects. You know I like to remind people long term effects of COVID aren’t great either and while a lot of teenagers and children don’t have that there are many that do," she said.

Pruitt said it's important for protecting kids and others.

"Certainly that will help us get back to normal and hopefully make the school year next year safer for everyone. The other is to you know talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. We as pediatricians are happy to discuss those concerns with you," she said.