The US Food and Drug Administration cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use by children 12 to 15 years old. As a result, school kids can now get COVID-19 immunization before they start the next school year.
Widening Vaccine Coverage
Millions of Americans aged 16 years and above already received the prescribed 2-shot vaccine course using the Pfizer-BioNTech product.
The FDA’s decision last Monday expands the vaccine’s coverage by adding children between the ages of 12 to 15. The Pfizer-BioNTech consortium submitted an application after conducting a study involving around 2,260 children of the same age. Results show that the vaccine works equally well with the age group.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden welcomed the FDA move. “The light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and today it got a little brighter,” Biden said in a statement.
The widened coverage allows US health officials to immunize even more Americans as soon as possible. If more people join in the vaccination efforts, many areas can ease pandemic measures currently in place.
Next Target for Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine: Children Aged 2 to 11
By September, Pfizer is aiming to apply for FDA emergency use authorization for children aged 2-11 years if results show promise.
The expansion “is a significant step in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock. “Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from Covid-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic.”
The agency gave the green light after a thorough review of trial data. This development can help with the planned moves to reopen schools full-time next semester.
Already, many school districts announced full reopening plans for this fall. However, the uncertainty on when schoolchildren can receive their shots can mix up schedules.
“The vaccination is the ticket for the most normal school year possible next year,” according to Fairfax County, Virginia., Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand. Fairfax plans to offer full-time, in-person instruction this fall.
Americans Getting Vaccinated
At present, more than 114 million Americans completed their COVID-19 vaccinations, per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Inoculating children is a necessary step in reaching the numbers for community immunity. Children below 18 years comprise 25% of the US population.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla thanked children and their parents who volunteered for the vaccine trials. “We’re saving children from ending up sick and going to the hospital,” said William Gruber, senior vice president of Pfizer’s vaccine clinical research. “We’re also expanding on that herd immunity protection that is going to be so critical for us to resume our normal lives.”
How Soon Can Teens Get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine?
Given that adolescents will use the same Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, they can join older Americans at government-sanctioned pharmacies and mass vaccination sites.
The FDA plans to announce expanded eligibility for adolescents to join mass vaccination drives can come by Thursday. This is according to Peter Marks, heads of the FDA division that regulates vaccines.
If everything goes according to schedule, many adolescents will receive full vaccination before going to summer camp. Even more, teens will get protection from coronavirus once the new school year opens.
Surveys Show A Mixed Reaction Among Parents
Meanwhile, surveys suggest that some parents will want their qualified children vaccinated as soon as possible. However, some parents prefer to wait, as they feel hesitant in getting vaccines for children. Some public-school systems plan to urge families to get their children immunized by offering shots in schools.
Districts generally require vaccination against infectious diseases like measles and mumps for their students. However, several school superintendents cautioned against requiring students.
The reason is that the vaccines are currently approved only for emergency use. If any school systems will issue requirements, it should be for fully approved vaccines. Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki weighed in on the issue.
She confirmed that the federal government won't require schools to mandate student vaccinations.
Watch the WFAA News video reporting that the FDA issues emergency authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children as young as 12:
Given the FDA’s emergency approval, will you allow vaccinations for your children? Why or why not? Let us know what you think about expanding vaccine coverage to children aged 12 to 15 years. Share your comments below.