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Adolescents ages 12 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations

Image of Son of military personnel receiving his COVID-19 vaccine. Samuel Stockton, 14-year old son of Naval Hospital Bremerton Command Master Chief Rob Stockton, is administered his first dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. NHB is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible beneficiaries age 12 and older (Photo by: Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton).

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At age 14, Samuel Stockton likes his school, and is anxious to return to a typical routine which has been anything but for over a year.

Accustomed to playing offense on the soccer pitch, that same principle of mounting an attack against a foe played out not on the field of play, but in an immunization clinic.

Samuel's dad, Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) Command Master Chief Rob Stockton brought his son in to be administered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

"I wanted to keep him healthy and also prevent him from unintentionally spreading the virus," said Stockton.

Although a lot of students might appreciate getting away from school on a weekday, that approach was not a reason or any kind of motivation for Samuel.

"Missing school was definitely not an incentive. He likes school," Stockton said. "But it shows how important getting the vaccine is, thus we prioritized health and safety over a morning of school."

As has been the case for many school-age children, the pandemic has disrupted school curriculum(s), curtailed individual and team sports and put a crimp on social interactions.

The virus has also directly impacted and even infected some children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than three million kids under the age of 17 have contracted COVID-19. Even though it is rare for adolescents and teens to get severely ill from COVID-19, it can happen. While cases, hospitalization and deaths are down, COVID patients are currently trending to be younger than they were before.

Not Samuel. His first dose of Pfizer COVID-19 has been administered. "Hardly felt it at all," he said.

The shot over, it was back to school and soccer, armed with a vaccination to take on a pervasive virus. His father thinks he'll share with others that he got the vaccine.

"In particular, COVID protocol for youth sports are a consideration," explained Stockton. "Encouraging his teammates to get the vaccine allows them to resume normal activities sooner."

As a military medical treatment facility, NHB is helping that process along, offering COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible beneficiaries age 12 and older.

However, A parent or guardian must accompany those under the age of 18.

Appointments can also be made for the COVID-19 vaccination by calling the Puget Sound Military Appointment Center, 1-800-404-4506, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration expanded the Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to include adolescents ages 12 and older, explained Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, Defense Health Agency director. "This is big news. Protecting our children, and further limiting transmission of the COVID virus, is the next logical step in our fight to end this pandemic. Upon the CDC Director's approval, Department of Defense has started administering doses to our expanded teenage population." stated.

The DHA also dispelled the myth that a parent's school-age child should delay getting the COVID-19 vaccine since they need to get other, school-required vaccinations in a few months. The CDC has determined that the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered at the same time as other vaccines.

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