The FDA has expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to now include 12-15-year-olds. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet soon to make the final recommendations on use of the vaccine in that age group in the USA.
This is an important step in putting the pandemic behind us and allows American families to begin to return to a normal life.
Even though parents have been able to easily get the vaccine, it was only available to adults (although the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was indicated for 16 years and up). This new authorization means that schools can consider opening up if this age group is vaccinated, and may allow teenagers to attend summer camps and get-togethers with friends.
This broadening of the age group resulted from a clinical trial which enrolled 2,260 participants between the ages of 12 and 15. The young teens were given either two doses of the vaccine (same dosage as adults) or a placebo three weeks apart.
The researchers recorded 18 cases of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in the placebo group and none in the vaccine group. This showed it to be highly effective at preventing symptomatic illness.
Additionally, the vaccine was also very safe for these children, with similar minor side effects as those seen in the larger clinical trial participants, ages 16-25. Fevers were observed more frequently in the vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds, about 20%, compared to 17% in the 16- to 25-year-olds.
As I wrote previously, we probably need to reach 80% vaccination rates to have full herd immunity, and we will need to include children in that number to even get close. So this is important good news to defeating this pandemic.
So, let me sum this up:
- The Pfizer COVID vaccine was shown to be highly effective in preventing symptomatic disease in 12- to 15-year-olds.
- The vaccine was shown to be extremely safe in the same age group.
There’s plenty of vaccines available in the USA. So once ACIP recommends it for this age group, take your kids down to your local vaccine hub and get it done!