Parents consider COVID-19 shots for children in Lima area

·3 min read

May 18—LIMA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's decision last week to endorse use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 has left parents searching for pharmacies offering Pfizer shots.

For parents trying to get their minor children vaccinated, the convenience of walking in without an appointment is not always an option, as varied vaccine allotments mean a pharmacy offering Pfizer shots one day may only have Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines available the next.

And Ohio's online vaccine finder, gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov, does not always show which brand is offered at a particular clinic.

What's available in Lima

Walmart, CVS and Meijer pharmacies in Lima are now offering Pfizer shots without an appointment, although availability may vary. Parents may need to check availability online to ensure the pharmacy hasn't switched to another brand that week.

Health Partners of Western Ohio, which has been providing vaccinations at Bradfield Community Center, is anticipating a small shipment of Pfizer doses this week.

Mercy Health-St. Rita's Medical Center, which is now organizing smaller immunization clinics outside the hospital, has also been offering Pfizer shots to anyone age 12 and older, provided that parental consent is given for children under 18 years-old.

Vaccines for school?

Immunization requirements are common for students entering school. But the recent adoption of the coronavirus vaccines available in the U.S. has made this approach unpopular, making it unlikely that many K-12 schools or universities will require students to show proof of vaccination before returning to campus in the fall.

With students here already back in classrooms months before the vaccines were approved for emergency use, there's little incentive to make the shots mandatory.

"Receiving or not receiving the vaccine is a family decision that should be made by a family and their doctor," said Danny Kissell, superintendent of Continental schools.

Some schools have opted instead to provide shots on campus to students who wish to receive one. Wapakoneta schools and Apollo Career Center worked with Mercy Health last month to offer vaccines to any students at least 16 years old. Fewer than 50% of eligible students signed up, said Aaron Rex, superintendent of Wapakoneta schools.

"Anybody that wants a vaccine — we'll make it easy for you," said Chris Pfister, superintendent of Waynesfield-Goshen schools, which is holding a Pfizer vaccine clinic at its district office this Thursday.

But like other districts, Pfister said Waynesfield-Goshen is not tracking which students and teachers choose to take the vaccine.

Low numbers so far

Just under 3% of Allen County youth under age 19 have been fully or partially vaccinated, compared to 7% of Ohioans in that cohort overall, according to Ohio Department of Health data.

"We know the percentage of younger people look for vaccines right now isn't particularly high," said Beth Keehn, director of government and community relations with Mercy Health-St. Rita's.

But the health system's nurses held a pop-up immunization clinic at Missionary Baptist Church last weekend that drew dozens of teenagers and their parents, Keehn said. As students leave for the summer, Keehn said, parents will have more time to determine whether their kids should be vaccinated before the start of the school year.