Black doctors promote COVID-19 vaccine for kids and teens age 12+ at event in Wilmington
The pandemic has been tough for kids like 12-year-old Neia Evans.
“Been pretty boring, not doing anything but staying at home,” she said.
But this summer could be different for Neia, since she got the vaccine Sunday at The Warehouse, a community center in northeast Wilmington that is for, and in-part run by, teens.
Neia’s mom, Necol Evans, says she gets her kids all vaccines and hopes this one will help her daughter attend school in person this fall.
“And so she can go to the store and feel comfortable about going, ‘cause she doesn’t really go to the stores or the restaurants, and neither do I,” Evans said. “It’s a precaution that she can use.”
Delaware kids started receiving the Pfizer vaccine last week, after the FDA approved it for ages 12-15 Monday. Kids in this age group can get vaccinated through Delaware Division of Public Health walk-in clinics and through some medical providers and pharmacies.
Teens and young adults who got vaccinated Sunday said they did so to comply with college requirements, to be able to shed their masks and to see their friends. Delaware plans todrop its mask mandate for fully vaccinated residents in most settings Friday.
Elected officials and a number of Black doctors attended Sunday’s event to emphasize that people of all ages should get vaccinated, to keep the community healthy.
Dr. Priscilla Mpasi is a pediatrician and public health manager at Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, which co-hosted the event at The Warehouse. She says even though kids and teens have shown lower rates of severe COVID, they should still get vaccinated.
“It protects other people from illness,” Mpasi said. “You may [have the virus] and be able to transmit it to other people. That could be your adult, it could be your parents, it could be your grandparents, it could be family members who have chronic conditions. So the vaccine is really a way of saying, I’m protecting everyone that’s around me. ”
“What’s great is that our young people have led this nation thus far,” said otolaryngologist Dr. Joan Coker. “They got our democracy back on track. They single-handedly helped with the George Floyd verdict. And now there’s another chance to lead.”
Coker, an ear, nose and throat doctor who’s been active promoting the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines and helping set up Delaware State University’s robust coronavirus testing program, says for young people, getting the vaccine is “not about you,” it’s “about the family.”
“It’s about that grandmother that’s struggling with cancer that got vaccinated but may not be able to mount that response because she’s just finished chemo,” she said.
Delaware is also trying to close the racial disparities in vaccination rates that persist despite some targeted outreach efforts.
Currently less than 28% of Black Delawareans are fully vaccinated, compared to more than 43% of white Delawareans. Just under 29% of Hispanic Delawareans are fully vaccinated, compared to nearly 56% of non-Hispanic Delawareans. Demographic data were not recorded for many early vaccinations.
Coker addressed some common concerns about the vaccines at Sunday’s event. She says they do not contain COVID-19.
“We love you just as you are—nobody’s trying to change your DNA,” she added. “We don’t need to track you, because you won’t leave home without your cell phones, and that’s too easy.”
All Delawareans age 12 and older are now eligible to get the vaccine, free of charge, regardless of immigration status, with or without health insurance.
Information about where to get the vaccine, as well as times and locations of community vaccination events, are available on the state’s website. Those who want to get the vaccine and need assistance, or know someone else who does, can call the state’s hotline at 1-833-643-1715.