CORONAVIRUS US

Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine for kids: ages, who can get and when?

The Pfizer vaccine, the only covid-19 vaccine approved for use with 16-year-olds and up, could be authorized for children as young as 12 by next week.

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Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine for kids: ages, who can get and when?
KENA BETANCUR AFP

The Pfizer-BioNtech covid-19 vaccine was the first jab to get FDA emergency use authorization to help slow the spread of the virus. Now almost five months and two additional covid-19 vaccines later, more than 100 million adults in the US have been fully vaccinated against covid-19, approximately half the total with the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.

In March the company announced that it would ask for FDA emergency use authorization for younger children with results exceeding those reported in participants from 16 to 25 years old. Clinical trials showed that side effects were similar in the 12 to 15 years old age group as the older cohort.

FDA expected to authorize Pfizer-BioNtech covid-19 vaccine early next week

The clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine consisted of 2,260 US adolescents from 12 to 15 years of age. In the trials the vaccine “demonstrated 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses, and was well tolerated.” This will come as a relief to many since children now represent a rising percentage of new coronavirus cases in the US. Ugur Sahin, CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech said of the trial results and returning to normalcy “It is very important to enable them to get back to everyday school life and to meet friends and family while protecting them and their loved ones.”

In a conference call with investors on Tuesday, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said that news from the FDA was expected soon on approval for adolescents between 12 and 15 years old. For children aged 2 to 11 the company expects to submit an application for emergency use authorization in September. Sometime in the fourth quarter the results for children six months to two years old are expected.

The CDC will give advice on covid-19 vaccine use in children after FDA approval

With previous emergency use authorization issued by the FDA, the data was reviewed and voted on by its independent Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee before approval was granted. This time around the FDA does not plan on putting the extension of the current emergency use authorization for 12-to-15-year-olds to the advisory committee again according to CNN. However the FDA says that it is commited to full transparency.

After the FDA reaches a decision on extending the emergency use authorization to adolescents it will be up to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to give its recommendation. An advisory committee will consider the findings before advising the CDC, and then Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will have the last word.

Canada on Wednesday became the first country to greenlight the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for children ages 12 to 15. Trials in both countries are underway for the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines in youths.

Biden pushes for more Americans to get vaccinated

With vaccination rates slipping the White House is making a renewed drive to reach herd immunity. On Tuesday the President set a new goal of getting 70 percent of US adults to receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and having 160 million adults fully vaccinated by 4 July.

To increase vaccination rates over the next two months the White House will direct thousands of local pharmacies to provide walk-in vaccinations to people without appointments. Additionally, FEMA will support pop-up and mobile clinics to reach those with trouble reaching vaccination sites.

The Biden administration is also working on improving the messaging to reduce vaccine hesitancy among hold-outs that has been driving the lower numbers of daily vaccinations.