FDA Authorizes Pfizer Vaccine for 12-15 Year Olds

Samantha Elkins, Multimedia Video Editor

On Monday, May 11, the FDA approved BioNTech and Pfizer’s request for 12 to 15 year olds to receive the vaccine on an emergency-use basis. The FDA may make an official announcement as early as Thursday, after the FDA’s advisory committee meets on Wednesday.   

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In a statement released by the FDA, the administration assures that Pfizer-Biotech thoroughly and rigorously reviewed the vaccine before deeming it safe for the age group. Pfizfer conducted a study among 12 to 15 year olds and reported a 100% effectiveness rate, which may allow middle schoolers to enter the school year next fall fully vaccinated.

The FDA approved its use in order to protect more children from COVID-19. Officials say that without vaccinated children, the country may never reach herd immunity, a term used for when enough people in a given area have antibodies against a disease. Social gatherings such as large school events, birthday parties and graduations may become possible once children receive their vaccination. Once approved, about 87% of the U.S. population could receive vaccinations and an additional 17 million children may become eligible.

On May 4, President Joseph Biden released a statement that his administration plans to prepare 20,000 pharmacy locations and pediatricians to vaccinate 12 to 15 year olds once the vaccine receives approval from the FDA. Pediatricians would receive vaccines directly,so parents can speak with their family physician on how to best approach the vaccination for their children.

Officials continue to urge parents to vaccinate their children as COVID-19 acts as a leading cause of death among children during the pandemic, despite the fact that the death rate remains lower among children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 300 to 600 children have died from COVID-19. Although rare, a dangerous inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, was found in 3,000 juvenile COVID-19 patients as well. 

Data shows that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination protocol for children remains the same as for any other age group. Officials plan to administer two doses to children with a 21-day period between each; children should reach fully vaccinated status two weeks after receiving the second dose. The data found that the 12 to 15 year old population experience similar side effects to other age groups, including temporary pain at the injection site, tiredness, headaches, muscle pain and nausea.