Home Marlton News Burlington County Health Department encourages vaccine appointments for children

Burlington County Health Department encourages vaccine appointments for children

Children 12 to 15 years old are now eligible to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Donald Cucuzzella, 14, of Burlington Township, was among the first teens between 12 and 15 years old who were vaccinated at the Burlington County Vaccine Maga-Site last week after the CDC expanded eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine. Donald’s mom is Burlington County Health Officer Holly Cucuzzella. (David Levinsky/ Special to The Sun)

Children 12 to 15 years old are now eligible to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and the Burlington County Health Department wants parents to be aware of the easy methods to make vaccine appointments.

The Burlington County Vaccine Mega-Site at the Moorestown Mall began vaccinating children from the new age bracket Thursday morning, just hours after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control approved the emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine to kids as young as 12.

CVS pharmacies in New Jersey are also accepting appointments for young teens, though only at stores with Pfizer.

The Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Pemberton Township is also hosting walk-up vaccination clinics this Thursday May 20 (noon to 7 PM), Friday May 21 (10 AM to 4 PM), Tuesday May 25 (noon to 7 PM) and Wednesday May 26 (10 AM to 4 PM) at the hospital’s Medical Office Building at 6 Earlin Avenue, Browns Mills. Pfizer will be available for child vaccinations.

Health officials said the authorization is important because it allows significantly more children to become protected and increase the overall immunity of the population. Previously, the vaccine was only authorized for those 16 and older.

Across New Jersey, more than 5,200 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and

“Children are not immune from this virus. Their risk of severe illness may not be as great as older adults, but they can get infected and they can become sick, sometimes seriously,” said Dr. Herb Conaway, director of the Burlington County Health Department. “Children can also be asymptomatic and transmit the virus, so it’s important for them to be vaccinated like the rest of us. This expansion is an important step.”

“Vaccinated children can safely attend schools that are less likely to close due to COVID-19 outbreaks, safely participate in sports and other enriching activities and safely visit grandparents and other relatives not living with them.  With vaccination comes normalcy,” Conaway added.

The Mega-Site is operated through a partnership between Virtua Health, Burlington County, the State of New Jersey and the New Jersey National Guard. Since opening in January, more than 300,000 vaccinations have occurred there.

Children ages 12 to 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian or have proof of parental consent before they can receive vaccine at the Mega-Site.

Walk-ins to the Mega-Site are permitted, but officials strongly encourage parents to make appointments for their children through the Virtua Health website or State vaccine registry.

Appointments for the Burlington County Mega-Site can be made online at https://www.virtua.org/vaccine?fbclid=IwAR2tfXGzyBrm5V1jYuTEyddTLPmNAML41nuwyH0YWckIa2NmDt__6o59G7w.

Residents can also register for appointments at the Mega-Site or other vaccination clinics by downloading the Burlington County Health App to your cell phone or tablet. The app is free and available from either the Google Play Store or the iPhone App Store. Just type Burlington County Health App” in either store’s search bar to download.

After downloading and opening the app, find and tap the white vaccine registration button, enter the required information and tap “SUBMIT.” Registrants should receive a call from a New Jersey Department of Health scheduling agent within a day or two to confirm the time and location of an upcoming appointment.

Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for children, so appointments for anyone under 18 will be limited to locations equipped with that vaccine.

To help facilitate student vaccinations, the Burlington County Health Department sent information to all school districts in the county explaining how they could partner with the Mega-Site to arrange for eligible students to sign up to be vaccinated.

“We want to get as many people vaccinated as possible and working with our school districts is another way we can help remove barriers that exist for some families,” Conaway said.

In addition to assisting at the Mega-Site, the Burlington County Health Department is administering vaccine to vulnerable homebound residents, individuals and families without homes, domestic violence shelters and in underserved communities with low vaccination rates.

“All the COVID-19 vaccines are proven to be safe and effective protection from the virus. I’ve received mine and I strongly encourage those who haven’t yet rolled up their sleeve to do so,” said Commissioner Deputy Director Dan O’Connell. “It’s the best way to protect yourself and your family, friends and co-workers.”

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