COVID-19 vaccine clinics open to teens with school set to start

With Midland area students heading back to the classroom in a couple of weeks, Midland County Medical Director Dr. Catherine Bodnar is encouraging students who are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Dr. Catherine Bodnar is the Medical Director for the Midland County Department of Public Health.Vaccine clinics for children ages 12-15 have been available in the county since June. Bodnar would like to see as many in that age group vaccinated as possible before school starts in the Midland Public Schools on Aug. 23. Bullock Creek, Meridian, and Coleman start the following week.  Bodnar, adds that she would also like to see the entire county at an 80% vaccination rate. 

“There is no time like the present [to be vaccinated],” says Bodnar. “It’s our path out of the pandemic. I know everyone wants it to be over — we have pandemic fatigue. The vaccine is our way out of this.”

With transmission rates rising due to the new, highly contagious Delta variant, Bodnar says transmission in schools could be high because of the number of students and staff indoors. The vaccine is a way to protect children and everyone at school.

“It’s close contact. We have to give this thing less places to go,” says Bodnar. “That means getting the vaccine, masking and social distancing when necessary. We have to also hand wash, mask and do things outside.”

The clinics are open every Tuesday from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Midland County Department of Public Health, located in the Midland County Services Building at 220 W. Ellsworth St. on the second floor. Adults and students 12 years and older are welcome.

There aren’t any out-of-pocket costs. Additional hours may be available by appointment only. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available. 
The walk-in clinics are open every Tuesday from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Midland County Department of Public Health, located in the Midland County Services Building.Every Tuesday in August, the county will offer the Pfizer vaccine. Online appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are accepted. The county can vaccinate anyone 12 years and older that needs a first or second dose. A vaccination card is required if it is a second dose appointment.

Bodnar says the Midland County Department of Public Health will also go to local events and workplaces, as requested. Vaccine clinics will be held at the Midland County Fair, which runs from August 15-21. 

Parents/guardians of teens can also call their primary care provider, or they can obtain the vaccine through a local pharmacy. Many pharmacies offer walk-in vaccines with no appointment necessary and some schedule by appointment. 

Answering teens’ and parents’ questions

The question most adolescents ask when getting the vaccine is: Will it make me sick? Bodnar says the COVID-19 is safe and effective for children ages 12-15, adding that there have not been any adverse reactions reported to her by anyone receiving the vaccine in that age range. 

“The vaccine is the way to avoid severe illness or hospitalization and offers protection, especially with the new variant,” says Bodnar. “It’s the best decision to get vaccinated, ideally before school starts since there are two doses.”

Dr. Paul Berg is President of the MidMichigan’s Physicians GroupDr. Paul Berg, president of the MidMichigan’s Physicians Group, agrees that teens and parents have a lot of questions about side effects of the vaccine.  

“It’s important to understand that the side effects seen in teenagers are very similar to those seen in adults,” says Berg. “Most patients experience little to no side effects from the vaccines.  Those that do tend to have mild reactions, including a sore arm, headaches, fatigue, and possibly a low-grade fever. Fortunately, the side effects do not last long; in most cases, the mild symptoms resolve after several days. 

Berg also addressed that some teenagers seem to be getting a lot of information from social media.  

“Unfortunately, much of this information is incorrect and misleading. For example, a rumor was spread early on about the vaccines possibly causing infertility. This is completely false and not backed at all by science,” says Berg. “It was an unfortunate case of misinformation spreading on social media. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists fully supports giving the vaccine to teenagers and young adults. The best place for teenagers to get information about the vaccines are from reputable sources like the CDC and their personal health care providers.”
And with school just around the corner, Berg stresses that any side effects from the vaccine are better than getting COVID.

“While most teens and children will have only mild illnesses from getting COVID, some do go on to have serious problems,” says Berg. “We are seeing some children in this country being hospitalized with COVID-19, and sadly, we have seen some deaths. When balancing the risks and benefits of getting the vaccine versus getting the COVID infection, the scale strongly tips towards getting the vaccine.”

Read more articles by Erika M. Hirschman.

A veteran freelance writer and former reporter with The Midland Daily News, Erika has covered a wide array of topics in and around Midland and Saginaw counties. She’s an award winning reporter, and holds a journalism degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy/Marygrove College. When Erika is not writing, she enjoys dancing in her kitchen with her two dogs and family. She loves to read, cook, travel and go to concerts. She’s lived in Saginaw County for 26 years.