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Vaccinations Of 12- To 15-Year-Olds Begin In Wisconsin

15-year-old Casey Stephens (left), accompanied by her mother Mary Burke (right), received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Wisconsin Center on Thursday.
Marti Mikkelson
Casey Stephens (left), 15 years old, is accompanied by her mother Mary Burke (right) and received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Wisconsin Center on Thursday.

Updated Friday at 10:45 a.m CST

Coronavirus vaccinations for 12- to 15-year-olds began Thursday in Wisconsin after an advisory committee for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on the inoculations for younger children.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced that children 12-15 years old are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is the first one and only vaccine available for this age group.

In Milwaukee, several young teens stopped in at the Wisconsin Center, the mass vaccination site downtown, to get their first dose of Pfizer on Thursday.

Each teen was accompanied by a parent. One of them was 15-year-old Casey Stephens, who said she has no reservations about being vaccinated.

“I was excited to get it because all of my friends who are 16 and up had already gotten it,” she said.

Stephens said she contracted COVID-19 this past winter. She said she didn’t have any symptoms during her quarantine period, and believes she’s built up some immunity. Stephens said she wants the vaccine for additional protection.

“It’s like good to have that reinforcement on top of the antibodies. It just makes me feel extra safe,” she said.

Stephens' mother, Mary Burke, said she’s relieved that her daughter will soon be fully vaccinated and looks forward to seeing relatives this summer.

“We have elderly family members who we have been concerned about visiting with and I feel more confident that we will not bring any illnesses to our higher-risk family members,” she said.

Another person getting the vaccine was 15-year-old Max Gruebling. He said some of his buddies have reservations about it, but he’ll try to convince them that the vaccine is safe.

“I’m going to encourage my friends to get it so we can hang out all summer and enjoy a COVID-free summer,” he said.

Gruebling's mom, Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson, said she expects a fair number of 12-15-year-olds to be vaccinated now that it’s available to young teens.

“I think so, I mean even when we were here just now, we saw parents and guardians with 12-15-year-olds, which is really exciting for me to see,” she said.

Johnson said even though the Wisconsin Center is closing at the end of the month due to declining demand, the Southside and the Northwest Health Centers will remain open for anybody 12 and above to be inoculated.

Gov. Tony Evers said the pandemic has been tough on everyone, but it's been especially hard for children.

“Now with a COVID-19 vaccine available for the first time, we can offer our children protection against the virus. Whether they are at school, playing ball with their friends or taking a family vacation, vaccinating your kids means they can get back to doing the things they love while also staying safe and healthy,” he said.

The coronavirus accounted for 1.3% of all deaths among adolescents between Jan. 1, 2020, and April 30, or 127 deaths overall. In Wisconsin, there have been three deathsfrom COVID-19 of people age 19 and under.

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin declined for the 10th consecutive day Wednesday to 492, down 297 cases from a month ago.

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