Metro Detroit younger teens get first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Southfield — Megan Sims, 13, said she screamed when she heard she was now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

"I went downstairs and told my mom and dad 'They approved it!" she said. "I was so excited."

Megan was among the first group of Metro Detroit teens to get the first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine Thursday through Beaumont Health, a day after U.S. health officials endorsed use of the vaccine in kids as young as 12 and Michigan health officials followed suit. 

She got her vaccine before noon at the Beaumont Service Center off Northwestern Highway near Lasher in Southfield. 

"I'm so glad to be here today," Megan said. 

She said she wanted to get the vaccine to do her part to protect her community from COVID-19 and to get back to some normalcy.

"I can see friends again, I can see family who have (received) the vaccine and be safe about it," Sims said.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the vaccines will enable kids to safely attend summer camps and help ensure a more normal return to classrooms in the fall.

Michigan health officials said Wednesday health care providers could start administering vaccines for adolescents Thursday and that further guidance would be issued.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been given to people 16 and older for months. Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration cleared its use for those as young as age 12.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the city would begin offering the Pfizer vaccine to teens aged 12 to 15 Thursday. 

Fourteen-year-old Koby Rauner gets his vaccination for COVID-19 from nurse Ashly Hofbauer as his parents, Sarah and Adam, watch at the Beaumont Service Center in Southfield, Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Experts say children are far less likely than adults to get seriously ill from COVID-19 — but some have died from the virus and thousands have been hospitalized. By last month, those age 12 to 17 were making up slightly more of the nation’s new coronavirus infections than adults over 65, a group that’s now largely vaccinated.

Megan's father, Matthew Sims, a Beaumont doctor and director of infectious disease research for Beaumont Health, joined Megan for her vaccination Thursday. Sims has appeared frequently on local TV news shows to discuss the virus and vaccines.

He said he's been looking forward to the day when his daughter could get a COVID-19 vaccine.

"I'm a firm believer in vaccines as the single greatest treatment and prevention strategies we have," he said. "They're safe and they work."

Beaumont officials said the health care system will offer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at its Beaumont Service Center and its Troy clinic. No appointment is necessary, but anyone younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Like Megan, Koby Rauner, 14, received the first dose of his vaccine at Beaumont's Southfield facility. Koby's mom, Sarah Rauner, is a pediatric nurse practitioner and coordinator of the vaccine clinics at the Beaumont Service Center and Beaumont Hospital in Troy.

He said he doesn't like needles, but getting the shot was a no-brainer for him.

"I think the waiting for the vaccine was worse than the vaccine," Koby said. "My parents asked me and told me it was my choice. I wanted to get it because I think the more people who get it, the safer we will all be."

He also said he hopes more teens follow his and Megan's lead and get the shot, too.

"It won't hurt you," he said. "It will only help you."

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez