T’Shon Skeete combats vaccine hesitancy amongst young people by using the analogy of being a knight.

“Think of your armor as your immune system. Your immune system fights off all the deadly diseases and protects you from the arrows,” the group leader at The Child Center of New York said at a virtual roundtable Thursday. 

“But think of the vaccine as your shield. Once you don’t have the vaccine, you don’t have your shield. You’re less protected,” he said, adding this protection was crucial not just for the adolescents, but also their families.

T’Shon Skeete, Group Leader and Test & Trace Advocate, The Child Center of NY, during the roundtable.

Skeete joined Dr. Daniel Stephens, New York deputy commissioner for the Division of Family and Child Health, for a community and ethnic media roundtable to address concerns about the Pfizer vaccine in adolescents. At the virtual roundtable, the pair fielded questions and concerns about the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in adolescents ages 12 to 15.

A number of parents are concerned about the side effects their children may experience after getting a vaccine, but according to Stephens young people involved in clinical trials experienced similar side effects to adults, including body aches and fever, which resolved within 24 to 48 hours. He added that 100% of young people who received the vaccine in the trials were protected from illness. 

As of June 3, 8% of New York City youth between 12 and 17 years old had received their first dose of the vaccine, and 2% had received both doses. Stephens said these numbers were continuing to increase, and clinical trials were currently underway with younger children.

Dr. Daniel Stephens, Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Family and Child Health and pediatrician, during the roundtable.

“I don’t have a certain date, but there is the suggestion that late this year, toward the very end of the year, we may end up seeing authorization for the vaccine in younger people,” said Stephens.

Currently, city leaders are trying to eliminate barriers that may prevent New Yorkers from getting vaccinated and are encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated. As part of that push, NYC has launched Youth Vax Week. 

From June 3 to June 6, there will be a series of virtual and in-person events—referred to as block parties—for parents and youth. The block parties will feature games, food, music and vaccination buses, where attendees can receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 

One of the block parties will occur in Marcy Plaza in Bed-Stuy on June 4.

Until June 7, vaccination buses will visit several locations in NYC, including the Brooklyn Museum and Coney Island.

To receive the Pfizer vaccine, everyone must present proof of age. Valid documents include a NYS ID, birth certificate and certificate of naturalization or citizenship. There is no proof of immigration status or social security number required.

In fact, the city hopes to make the vaccine more accessible to immigrant communities.

According to Alexandra Ruiz, Co-Chair of TRIE Vaccine Equity Sub-Committee at the NYC Vaccine Command Center, the city is working to extend operation hours of vaccination sites. Since immigrant parents tend to work longer hours, this will give them more time to bring their child in for a vaccine. Further, vaccination sites have many language services in place to provide interpretation to those with limited English proficiency.

Vaccination appointments can be scheduled by calling 844-VAX-4NYC and more information about Youth Vax Week and mobile vaccination sites can be found at nyc.gov/nycmobilevax.


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Brianna Lopez

Brianna Lopez is an aspiring writer and journalist with a passion for giving a voice to the local community. As she continues her undergraduate education, she hopes to continue developing community connections...

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