Coronavirus

Pfizer Vaccine Approval: When and where can children 12-15 get vaccinated?

A major milestone in the fight to end the pandemic in the US came Monday as the FDA approved Pfizer’s vaccine for children between the ages of 12-15.

Pfizer Vaccine Approval: When and where can children 12-15 get vaccinated?
HANNAH BEIER REUTERS

On Monday 10 May, the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine for children between the ages of twelve and fifteen. According to data from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.6 million residents in the US, under the age of sixteen have received at least one dose of Pfizer’s vaccine.

Public health officials in the US are hoping that with the approval, these numbers will increase rapidly. With vaccine hesitancy clouding the chances that the US is able to end the pandemic, vaccinating children will be instrumental to increasing herd immunity around the country.

Where can children get vaccinated?

Parents and guardians can book appointments for their children to get vaccinated the same way they would for themselves. The CDC offers a variety of tools including “Vaccine Finder” which allows vaccine goers to find and book appointments in their area. This tool is especially useful as users can filter by vaccine type which is important since the Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for those between twelve and eighteen.

What side effects were most common in children?

Similar to adults who receive the vaccines, teens also reported “pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever, and joint pain.” Most side effects go away with one to three days of the injection.

When will Moderna and Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine be available for children?

In January 2021, Pfizer became the first company to register enough children in their vaccine trial to begin the approval process.

Moderna closely followed with approval for their clinical trying happening in February, and the trial itself begining in March. Moderna’s trial is testing the vaccine for children twelve and under, including infants, some as young as six months. In a press release about the trial, the company stated that the study “will help us assess the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate in this important younger age population.

In April, Johnson & Johnson began trials in children between the ages of twelve and seventeen. The trial has not been completed. The initial phase of the trial will focus on vaccinating sixteen and seventeen-year-olds and after those results are collected, the company will move into testing on younger populations. The J&J will have a much more international focus compared to the other trials. Trials are beginning in the Spain and United Kingdom, but the company expects to expand to the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina

Although policymakers would like to see the vaccines approved in children quickly to get many vaccinated before school begins in the fall, there is no set timeline when they will become available. Vaccines are approved when they are able to demonstrate that they are effective and safe.