USA Today: FDA Authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for younger teens
By Karen Weintraub
A COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, is safe and effective enough to give to younger teens, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday in authorizing its use.
The decision means adolescents ages 12 to 15 could qualify for shots as soon as Thursday, after the Wednesday meeting of an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
President Joe Biden said last week that 20,000 pharmacy locations are ready to begin vaccinating adolescents once the necessary approvals come through.
Older teens, ages 16 and 17, have been allowed to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine since it was authorized in December. The other two vaccines authorized for use in the USA, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have not been available to minors because studies are still underway.
“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," acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement Monday. "Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”
Many parents are eager to get their children vaccinated, so their families can safely visit older relatives and their teens can get back to school and extracurricular and social activities.
Dr. Barbara Pahud, the Research Director of pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, said she's thrilled that the nation can add vaccinated teens to its list of accomplishments.
"This is the energy the world needs now. There's a lot of COVID fatigue," said Pahud, who is involved in Pfizer-BioNTech's trial in younger children and whose own 12-year-old signed up for the Moderna trial.
"My daughter was very vocal last year saying it's not fair they're only doing studies for adults and not for kids," Pahud said. "She was waiting, tapping on their door for the study to start, and as soon as it opened, she signed up."
Pahud said she hopes every adolescent is as enthusiastic about vaccines as her daughter is, but she knows that if parents are vaccine-hesitant, their kids will be, too.
"I do believe there's a very good group in the middle that can be convinced if they understand the science," Pahud said. Requiring vaccines at school or at least letting vaccinated kids go without masks, she said, could encourage some holdouts.
Get the latest information on Children's Mercy vaccine clinics for children as young as 12-years-old.