HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Following the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, a local medical center in Western Maryland has introduced a new walk-in clinic for minors in that age group.
Meritus Medical Center has rolled out a walk-in vaccine clinic to accommodate the newly approved age group for kids looking to get vaccinated in our community. The clinic runs on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The medical center will be expanding the hours of the clinic on May 17th and 18th from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in an attempt to accommodate students’ school hours.
Dr. Anand Budi, a local pediatrician and the Medical Director for Hospital Programs at Meritus Health, says the vaccine is safe for children as it has completed the necessary trials. He also stressed parents should not be worried about the side effects of the vaccine.
“Our advise as pediatricians in the community and at large in the country is strongly to recommend the vaccine,” Dr. Budi explained. “The side effects were very similar to what they were seeing in adults. There were no incidents of blood clots in the children and that age group.”
Nicole Holler was one of the first in line to get her 13-year-old son, Lukas, vaccinated at the clinic. Holler and her husband are both vaccinated and were always planning on vaccinating their children against the coronavirus. She stated that she is waiting on a COVID vaccine to be approved for adolescents as her 6-year-old will be the only member of the family to not have access to the vaccine.
“As a family, we knew that the minute it opened up for the younger kids, that we would be some of the first to jump in on it,” Holler said. “We have a daughter who’s 11, she turns 12 in June, and we’ll be signing her up right away and hopefully, the younger kids will be able to come as well.”
16-year-old Gillian Coffey is a student at Smithsburg High School. Her parents let her decide whether she would get the vaccine. When the day came, she was more than ready to roll up her sleeve so her life can start to move towards some form of normalcy. She explained she and her friends have been talking about when they will receive their vaccines and are excited at the prospect of finally spending time together in person.
“I did it because, first of all, I want to stay safe, I don’t really want to get COVID,” Coffey said. “It also kind of takes away the responsibility if somehow I was a factor in getting [giving] somebody else COVID, it doesn’t feel like my responsibility anymore because they could have gotten the vaccination.”
A parent or guardian must sign a consent form before the child can receive their vaccine. For more information about the clinic and to complete the consent form, please visit the vaccine information page on the Meritus Medical Center website.