By: Lani Hansen, Senior Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– As public areas are slowly opening up again and many of the healthcare workers and elders have received the COVID vaccines, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health is now distributing vaccines to ages 12 and older.
When the FDA approved of vaccines being given to those from ages 12 to 15 years old, MCNDH took the chance and started giving it to those who came in the Okmulgee Pediatrics Clinic. The distribution began in late May, other clinics such as Eufaula, Okemah, Sapulpa and Koweta have been giving vaccinations out also for those ages.
According to MCNDH Lt. Commander Sam Hubler, FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for pediatric patients. The vaccine doses are the same as what the adults received. Hubler said the vaccine schedules are also the same, where the patient receives the first dose and about 21 days later receives the second dose.
“We can do it as early as 17 days from the first dose, or as late as six weeks,” Hubler stated about the vaccine schedule.
Because the vaccinations are the same between the adults and those who are ages 12-15, the symptoms remain the same. Hubler said most of the younger ones who have received the vaccine have done well not having any symptoms. He said there has only been a few who reported having symptoms within a day following the injection.
According to Kanati Strategies Partner Cheena Pazzo, as of June 1 MCNDH has administered 123 vaccinations to those 12 to 15 years of age. The number is expected to rise in the coming weeks with events planned for school districts in Broken Arrow, Sand Springs, Bristow and Glenpool. As of June 1, MCNDH has administered a total of 32,063 COVID-19 vaccines.
Hubler said they are giving the vaccines out daily at all of the MCNDH clinics. For those who fall in the age group of 12 to 15, Hubler encourages them to get vaccinated as he says, “the earlier, the better.”
“It takes about two weeks after your first dose to reach full potential of immunity,” Hubler said. “So if we’re looking at getting back into school, sports camps, church camps and any other activities the sooner you get that started the better.”
After receiving both of the vaccine doses, the antibodies typically last in a person’s immune system anywhere from six to nine months.
“It’s my projection that in the fall, the adults who have received the vaccine will need to receive a booster,” Hubler said. “We will be doing it in a rolling fashion as the pediatrics population are joining us in vaccines. Looks like we will be getting these for the foreseeable future.”
Hubler believes it is important for the youth to get vaccinated to help protect the elders. Working in healthcare, he has heard a lot about protecting the elders and taking care of them. He said if you want to honor your elders or take care of them, getting vaccinated is an opportunity to do so.