Cohen Children’s Begins COVID-19 Vaccinations for 12- to 15-Year-Olds

From left: Dr. Charles Schleien, 13-year-old Sydney Glover, mom Valentine, and Dr. Sophia Jan. Sydney becomes the first in the 12 to 15 age group to get vaccinated by Dr. Jan at Cohen Children's Medical Center on May 13. Credit Northwell Health.

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y.--()--Cohen Children’s Medical Center today began vaccinating adolescents, aged 12 to 15, the youngest population yet in the race toward herd immunity against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The latest vaccine rollout came after the US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and vaccine advisory panels from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State Department of Health approved its use. New York has already vaccinated 50 percent of adults 18-and-older, meaning that adolescents will play an important role in ending the pandemic.

“Clearly, adolescents spread COVID-19,” said Charles Schleien, MD, senior vice president of pediatric services at Northwell Health. “For kids to be vaccinated – and have a much, much lower chance of spreading it – is key to stopping this pandemic and trying to achieve herd immunity.”

The physicians and staff at Cohen Children’s know firsthand why vaccinations in the youngest population are so important. One of the more mysterious and severe reactions to COVID-19 is multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which has stricken countless children.

Northwell, New York’s largest health system, has delivered more than 450,000 doses of vaccine since Sandra Lindsay, RN, a nurse manager at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, became the first American vaccinated on December 14, 2020. Vaccine sites are now open to this youngest age group.

“It is a falsehood that children don't get sick from COVID-19,” said Matthew Harris, MD, medical director of Northwell Health’s vaccine program. “We've had many children who have gotten sick and passed on the virus to susceptible parents and grandparents. This next step in the vaccination effort is huge.”

At a media event today at Cohen Children’s, five youths volunteered to be among the first to receive the newly-approved vaccine. Two of them, Edis Kacamakovic, 15, of Hicksville, LI, and Sydney Glover, 13, of South Ozone Park, Queens, had very important and different reasons to get the shot.

Edis, who has cystic fibrosis, wants to be able to travel to Montenegro this summer to see his maternal grandfather, now in failing health. Sydney, living with sickle cell anemia and asthma, wants to be with classmates in person again after a year of remote learning.

“This is important for me to do because I want to get back to school, dancing, traveling and spending more time with family,” said Sydney, who plans to attend St. Francis Preparatory School in the fall. “I did all remote classes this year. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends, interacting in class and taking part in extracurricular activities.”

Northwell treated more COVID-19 cases – more than 200,000 patients – over a 14-month span than any other health system as it collaborated with state and local government to aggressively roll out diagnostic testing and then vaccination efforts to underserved communities across New York City, Long Island and Westchester.

“These vaccines are 100 percent effective against hospitalizations and deaths,” said Sophia Jan, MD, chief of general pediatrics at Cohen Children’s, who personally vaccinated three of her patients in front of media. “Three things to remember: This will be the first time we’ll feel comfortable hugging, kissing and visiting our grandparents. Secondly, it allows our kids to go back to school in a normal way. And finally, the vaccine will be required for some travel and events.”

To book a vaccine appointment for adolescents, 12-and-older, search for Pfizer locations at:


Photos from Cohen Children’s Medical Center vaccination event:

Video from Northwell-staffed vaccine POD on Staten Island:

About Northwell Health

Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, 830 outpatient facilities and more than 16,600 affiliated physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 76,000 employees – 18,900 nurses and 4,800 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit and follow us @NorthwellHealth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York

Founded in 1983, Cohen Children’s Medical Center is a 202-bed hospital dedicated exclusively to the care of children. The specialists in the hospital’s national and international programs cover an entire range of specialties. State-of-the-art care for children’s medical, surgical, and dental needs are provided in both inpatient and outpatient settings. The facility is the largest provider of pediatric health services in New York State, serving 1.8 million children in Nassau and Suffolk counties, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and Westchester County. For the 13th consecutive year in 2019, Cohen was ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals in US News & World Report's 2019-20 “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals” survey, achieving top-50 rankings in nine of 10 pediatric specialties.


Jason Molinet


Jason Molinet