News Release

Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Organization

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Organization (YKHC) plans to begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals ages 12 to 15 years Thursday.

The Federal Drug Administration authorized use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds Monday. Pending an anticipated endorsement by an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Organization will start vaccinating people ages 12 to 15 in Bethel Thursday. Vaccinations in villages are expected to start next week. 

“We are excited to be able to offer the vaccine to children 12 to 15 years old,” said Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Organization’s Chief of Staff Ellen Hodges. “Vaccinating children in this age group will help make our schools safer. It also increases the percentage of the total population that has received the vaccine, bringing us closer to our normal ways of life.”

Since early April, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Organization has worked with parents to register their 12-to-15 year olds to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available. Parents of children under 18 years old are required to provide written permission for their child to receive the vaccine. Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Organization estimates there are about 2800 children 12 to 15 years old in the Yukon Delta.

In its application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of the vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old, Pfizer reported the vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 infection in this age group. More than 100 million people, including more than 12,000 residents on the Yukon Delta, have safely received the COVID-19 vaccine so far. Getting the vaccine protects people and communities from COVID-19. It makes opening schools safer.

While COVID-19 case rates in the Delta have declined since this winter, this virus continues to be a health risk. The vaccine is the most effective tool in preventing COVID-19. 

“Vaccinating as many people in the Yukon Delta is key to ending this pandemic. The vaccine is safe and highly effective,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bates, “I encourage folks to continue following our guidance around mitigation strategies and test if they are symptomatic. We can get through this together.”

To register 12-to-15 year olds to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, visit https://tinyurl.com/y7reeyst or call 1-800-478-6599. If you have questions about the vaccine, ask your healthcare provider or visit www.ykhc.org/vaccine. 

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