May 13, 2021
By Dr. Chinni Pulluru, Senior Director, Clinical Innovation, Transformation and Operations, Walmart U.S.
School is almost out for summer, but the doctor is in with an exciting update for adolescents aged 12-15: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just authorized the vaccine for this age group this week, expanding eligibility from the previous age limit of 16 and older.
This is great news, not just for the newly eligible cohort, but for the entire country. The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective in all ages — even better for those age 12-15 — at preventing symptomatic COVID-19. That means for every vaccinated adolescent, their risk of severe COVID-19 decreases — making it easier for schools to safely resume in-person teaching, creating the possibility for safe summer camps and outdoor extracurricular activities and giving parents one less thing to worry about. To put it another way: Expanded vaccine eligibility gets our country one step closer to safely and fully reopening.
At Walmart, we want to make it as easy as possible for all eligible customers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, no matter their age. We’re proud to announce our pharmacies nationwide will start vaccinating adolescents with the authorized Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this Thursday, May 13, 2021. Here’s what teens — and their families — need to know before coming in:
- The Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective: The Pfizer vaccine has been evaluated based on strict safety and efficacy standards and is proven to be 95% effective at all ages and even better for those age 12-15. For adolescents, that means you have a more than 95% chance of being protected from severe side effects, in the event you contract COVID-19. And for parents, that’s a 95% lower chance your child won’t end up severely ill, in the hospital, or any number of other scenarios that might keep you up at night.
- Vaccines are available via appointment or walk up: Parents and adolescents can use our digital appointment scheduler (walmart.com/COVIDvaccine or samsclub.com/covid) to find an available Pfizer vaccine in your community. Simply filter by vaccine manufacturer — in this case Pfizer — and our tool will show locations administering the vaccine in your neighborhood. You can make an appointment to reserve your spot in advance, or simply walk in, as supply allows.
- Parental consent is often required for minors to get vaccinated: Different states require different parental consent rules, but many require a parent or guardian to be present to authorize the vaccination of a minor. You can visit your state department of health website to learn more about requirements in your area.
- Vaccines are available at no cost, with or without insurance: COVID-19 vaccines are being administered at no cost to eligible Americans, even if they’re uninsured, thanks to the CARES Act. Individuals with insurance can also get the vaccine at no cost through their insurance plan or Medicaid.
- The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, administered three weeks apart: As with adults who have been immunized with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, adolescents will need to receive two doses in order to receive the full protection from the vaccine. Your second appointment will be scheduled at the time of the first dose. Our digital appointment scheduler will send a reminder ahead of the appointment to ensure the second dose is administered on time.
Now, a big concern I’ve heard from parents is that the COVID-19 vaccine is too new for use in children. This vaccine has been guided by science that has been in development for more than 20 years. The FDA studied and authorized the vaccine based on strict safety and efficacy standards, with extra evaluation for the 12-15 age group. Plus, the technology used to develop the vaccines — mRNA — has actually been studied for more than a decade. Scientists are using mRNA in a new way with the COVID-19 vaccines, but the technology itself has been rigorously studied, tested and deemed safe for years. Millions of U.S. adults and older teens from 16-19 have already been safely vaccinated against COVID-19, and with the expanded eligibility, millions of children aged 12-15 can get protected, too.
I believe in this vaccine so much my whole family is vaccinated except for my 13-year-old son. My 16-year-old went by herself on the first day it was offered for her age group to sign up. When asked why the rush, she said, “Mom, I want to get back to seeing my friends, go shopping and not have to worry about being sick or giving it to other people.” When I told my son that I would be signing him up to vaccinated, he responded, “Good, I can be safe and not have to worry about corona.” As a mom, nothing makes me happier than to protect my children from this virus that has affected so many, and we are just beginning to understand the long-term physical effects it might have. I can’t wait to see my kids back to enjoying all the things that mark a childhood and see their friends’ smiles again when the time comes that we are able to safely unmask because of increased vaccination.
It will take all of us, working together, to end this pandemic. We get one step closer with every vaccine administered and every person who is protected against COVID-19. And thanks to this week’s expanded vaccine eligibility for adolescents, parents and teens will soon be able to breathe easier knowing their COVID-19 risk is lower and they’ve done their part to help their community.