The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for use in people ages 16 and up in December. The FDA has now amended the authorization to include children ages 12 to 15.
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Last week, President Joe Biden said in remarks at the White House that the administration was “ready to move immediately to make about 20,000 pharmacy sites across the country ready to vaccinate those adolescents as soon as the FDA grants its OK.”
First, however, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet Wednesday to update its recommendation for who should receive the Pfizer vaccine.
If the head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, signs off on the committee’s recommendations, the first shots for children kids 12 and up could come within days.
“They could be as soon as Thursday,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said on a call with reporters Monday.
If it is greenlighted by the CDC, the vaccine’s rollout may differ from state to state. The FDA authorization applies everywhere across the U.S. and territories, but some sites or pharmacies might not give the shots to younger teens, depending on state rules and regulations.
On the FDA’s website, the agency’s acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, said the authorization was “a significant step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The action, Woodcock wrote, “allows for a younger population to be protected from Covid-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic.”
The administration also plans to send vaccines directly to pediatricians’ offices, where parents may feel more comfortable discussing their children’s shots. The vaccinations will also be available at other sites, such as community centers.
In late March, Pfizer said Phase 3 clinical trial data showed that its Covid-19 vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing the illness in children 12 to 15 years old.
The U.S. trial study included more than 2,200 people in that age group. About half got the real shots, while the rest got placebos. Pfizer said 18 people in the placebo group were diagnosed with Covid-19. No cases were reported among those who got the vaccine. The preliminary findings were announced in a news release, without peer review of the full set of data.
While the company said the vaccine is generally safe for children, with minimal side effects, such as a slight fever or a sore arm, doctors say releasing the full data will be important to increasing confidence in the safety of the shots.
“The more transparency we can have in this entire process, the better off we are in terms of trust,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice chair of the committee on infectious diseases at the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Créditos: Comité científico Covid