Wisconsin state officials talk vaccine approval for 12- to 15-year-olds

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- Four and a half million COVID-19 vaccine doses have already been given in the state of Wisconsin, but now an entirely new age group is able to get their shots.

“These COVID-19 vaccines have gone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history,” said Gov. Tony Evers.

With kids ages 12-15 now approved for vaccine shots, clinics look to be busy again.

Clinics will be able to start giving vaccine shots to these kids as early as Thursday as long as the Pfizer vaccine is available.

Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for these kids, but that’s because it can guarantee that the age group will be safe.

“The Pfizer vaccine is 100% effective in preventing infection in children ages 12-15. And that is very good news,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

With schools all over the state seeing a rise in cases, health experts say it is important for parents not to wait and to get their kids a shot as soon as possible.

“Vaccinating children in this age group will prevent individual illness and help stop the spread among our children and in our communities,” said Willems Van Dijk.

La Crosse school district leaders say they won’t be requiring students to get vaccinated as that would take a state law change. Both Onalaska and La Crosse school districts said Wednesday that they are not requiring eligible students to be vaccinated.

“We are currently not considering requiring COVID vaccinations for students anytime in the near future. It would take a state law change to add that vaccination to the required list and we haven’t heard of any movement on that front,” said a La Crosse district representative.

Schools across the state are able to host pop-up vaccine clinics to encourage students to get the vaccine and make it easier for the parents.

“‘It’s a very positive thing, and our family and community will be better off if more young people get vaccinated,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases.