NY task force will decide whether to vaccinate kids 12 to 15

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., where the Toronto Blue Jays are scheduled to play several home games due to restrictions in cross-border travel between the U.S. and Canada on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Children ages 12 to 15 in New York could get vaccinated as early as Thursday, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory committee was expected to meet Wednesday to formally recommend the Pfizer vaccine for that age group. But Cuomo has said before New York can start vaccinating those minors, the state’s vaccine advisory task force and state health commissioner will first have to review safety data and decide whether to recommend the vaccine.

The mayor and health officials in New York City, meanwhile, said they have plans to start vaccinating children ages 12 to 15 on Thursday.

“The CDC is meeting today,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Wednesday. “We are thoroughly convinced that they will support this effort and approve the ability to go ahead with Pfizer vaccines for young people. We have a full plan to reach young New Yorkers and get them vaccinated.”

It’s unclear when people can start signing up for appointments, but a spokesperson for the city’s health department said appointments will be listed as soon as possible.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said more than 250 sites in the city administer the Pfizer vaccine, including the American Museum of Natural History, neighborhood pharmacies and pop-up vaccination sites. The sites are also taking walk-up appointments, he added.

Last fall, Cuomo was one of a handful of governors who announced he wanted his state to analyze data from vaccine clinical trials before allowing residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Cuomo at the time said some people were expressing reluctance to get vaccinated. He cited concerns that former President Donald Trump’s administration was exerting political pressure to quicken the pace of vaccine development.

New York’s task force — whose members include doctors at New York City hospitals — unanimously recommended the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines after they received federal approvals in December and March, according to press releases issued by Cuomo’s office.

This is the first time that Cuomo has announced New York’s task force has to OK the use of vaccines in new age groups.

In California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup was reviewing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for children ages 12 to 15. It was expected to make its decision Wednesday.

Cuomo said that New York’s task force would meet with state health commissioner Howard Zucker following the CDC committee’s meeting Wednesday to make a final recommendation. It’s unclear when the task force will make its decision.

But Cuomo said, “We could have full authorization for vaccinations to begin for 12- to 15-year-olds here in New York as early as Thursday.”

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