The Food and Drug Administration announced this week that they approved the use of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for kids aged 12 and up; previously the vaccine was only approved for individuals 16 and older.
The administration’s approval will ideally get all middle and high school students vaccinated before the fall semester. The FDA is also hoping that the approval will accelerate America’s effort to drive down new infections and reach herd immunity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory committee is scheduled to meet this Wednesday to review the shot completely for use in kids. If approved by the CDC, as it is expected too, adolescents can begin receiving their shots as early as this week.
Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said “the decision brings us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic. I want to assure parents that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data before clearing it for use in the teens.”
The companies expressed how in late March the vaccine was found to be 100% effective in a clinical trial of more than 2,000 adolescents, as well as activated a “robust” antibody response in younger children. All apparent side effects were also consistent with those seen in adults.
Health experts have long claimed that vaccinating children is an essential step to ending the pandemic, and is the only way America has a shot at reaching herd immunity. According to government data children make up 20% of the total U.S. population. “Between 70% and 85% of the U.S. population needs to be vaccinated against Covid to achieve herd immunity, and some adults may refuse to get the shots. Though more experts now say herd immunity is looking increasingly unlikely as variants spread,” experts claim.
The White House’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said in April that “the US could begin vaccinating older kids against Covid-19 by the fall while elementary-age children may start getting their shots by early next year.”
Approval by the FDA for kids under the age of 12 could potentially come in the second half of the year, according to Fauci. Pfizer claims that it expects to apply for authorization for its vaccine to be given to toddlers and younger children in September, and infants in November. Pfizer has also become the first vaccine manufacturer to begin the submission process to get full FDA approval for its use of the vaccine in people 16 and older.
Pfizer and BioNTech reported that they began a clinical trial for their vaccine in healthy 6-month to 11-year-old children.
This will also be a major step in President Biden’s efforts to bring back full in-person learning for America’s kids in the fall. The administration even announced plans to invest $10 billion into Covid-19 testing for schools specifically.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.