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Youth vaccinations low, officials encourage education

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Devin Spivey, community health director and epidemiologist with District Health Department Nos. 2 and 4, works in her office Wednesday in Alpena.

ALPENA — Since becoming eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, 2.8% of Northeast Michigan youth between the ages of 12 and 15 have completed their vaccination and 11.1% have initiated their vaccine.

That means 262 of 2,353 youth in Alpena, Presque Isle, Montmorency, and Alcona counties have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine — the only vaccine available to that age group so far — and a total of 65 of those youth have received both doses of the vaccine.

Devin Spivey, community health director and epidemiologist with District Health Department Nos. 2 and 4, said although the response is slower than what local public health officials saw for the other age groups, it wasn’t unexpected.

“Obviously parents want to do their research and we highly encourage that,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of research still being done by parents and it’s obviously a newer vaccine, so people want to know what they are putting into their bodies is safe. We are encouraging any parent who is hesitant right now to reach out to their doctor — talk to the people they trust most with their kids’ health.”

Spivey said District Health Department No. 4 officials have called every youth on its pre-registration list and, as of Wednesday, had administered 254 vaccines to youth in Alpena, Presque Isle, Montmorency, and Cheboygan counties.

She said youth between the ages of 12 and 15 have only been able to receive vaccines over the course of the past few weeks. She said officials are still receiving calls from parents trying to educate themselves further about the vaccine.

Spivey said she expects family doctors and pediatricians will also have a role in vaccinating youth, as parents look to them to help provide education and administer vaccines.

“People want that one-stop shop where they can get educated and get their vaccine right there,” she said. “We really see them coming on as partners and helping out in this next phase with the younger group.”

She said while Health Department officials would like to see more youth receiving the vaccine, they expect to continue administering vaccines into the summer and into the new school year.

DHD No. 4 has reduced its vaccine clinics to one clinic a week per county, as demand for the vaccine has slowed among all age groups.

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