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COVID-19 VACCINE

What has CDC said about covid vaccine for 12-15 year old kids?

US states are set to begin using the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech to inoculate younger adolescents aged 12 to 15 against covid-19, after CDC adviser vote.

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Vacuna Pfizer-BioNTech para adolescentes de 12 a 15 años
FREDERIC J. BROWN AFP

The United States can now begin vaccinating adolescents with the covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were told on Wednesday.

CDC backs vaccine for 12-15 year olds

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which provides recommendations to the CDC, voted 14-0 to back the vaccine after reviewing trial evidence. That showed no one in the 12-to-15 age group who received the vaccine got covid-19. There were no severe allergic reactions.

Moreover, the vaccine produced robust antibody responses in the age group and showed 100% efficacy in the trial, with no cases of symptomatic covid-19 among the fully vaccinated adolescents.

The move will open vaccination to about 17 million adolescents, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement, saying the agency officially recommends the vaccine.

The vaccination "will decrease transmission within their family," said Dr. Henry Bernstein, a member of the advisory committee and professor of pediatrics at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. "It will contribute to community immunity, and it allows the kids to more safely go back to camps this summer, and back for in-person school."

About a third of all Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC data. But the pace of vaccination has slowed in the recent weeks.

The rollout of a vaccine for adolescents should help limit the spread of the virus at a time when more contagious variants are circulating, and could shorten the road to normalcy for Americans.

Vaccinating young Americans: how we got here

The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized the vaccine for children aged 12 to 15, offering relief to parents eager to get their children back to schools and summer camps. Some states, including Georgia, Delaware and Arkansas, began offering the vaccine to younger teens on Tuesday.

A working group concluded that benefits of the vaccine clearly outweigh risks and recommended the vaccine in a presentation to the meeting. No one in the age group who received the vaccine in a clinical study got covid-19, and there were no cases of Bell’s Palsy or severe allergic reactions, according to the working group presentation, which confirmed previous data.

About a third of all Americans have been fully-vaccinated according to the CDC data. But the pace of vaccination has slowed in the recent weeks.

The rollout of a vaccine for adolescents should help further limit the spread of the virus at a time when more contagious variants are circulating, and could shorten the road to normalcy for Americans.

"I think we should be in full school, full in-person school, in the fall," Walensky said at a CNBC health summit on Tuesday.

Children have been considered by health officials as being at a lower risk for severe covid-19, but they can still spread the virus. More than 1.5 million cases have been reported among 12- to 17-year-olds, and as more adults become vaccinated, adolescents are accounting for a higher proportion of total cases.

Adjusted for underreporting, the working group estimated 22.2 million US covid-19 infections in those aged 5 to 17.

Pfizer is running a separate trial testing the vaccine in children as young as 6-months-old, and has said it expects data on its use in 2- to 11-year-olds in September. The 2,260 participants in the 12-to-15 age group - half of whom were given placebo - were tested as an expansion of Pfizer's more than 46,000-person trial.