The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization to allow the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in teens as young as 12.
The two-dose vaccine had been authorized for those as young as 16. After clinical trials and research in those age 12 to 15, the pharmaceutical company asked the FDA to expand their emergency use authorization to allow the vaccine to be used in younger teens.
Monday morning the agency granted the request.
“Today’s action 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," said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.
Adolescents between 12 and 15 will receive the Pfizer two-dose COVID-19 vaccine the same way those 16 and older do now; the shots will be given three weeks apart with the same dosage.
The study included more than 2,200 participants ages 12 to 15. Common side effects were similar to adults, with pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever and joint pain.
Children now make up 22% of COVID-19 infections are about 1.2 to 3.1% of hospitalizations across the nation according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Arizona is one of the hardest hit states when it comes to kids catching the virus. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 children have been infected.
“Kids can absolutely get COVID and they can share it with others,” said Becky Wolf of Pleasant Pediatrics.
“We are expecting that it will be approved; we’ve actually already opened up our scheduling,”
You don’t have to be a patient of the clinic to sign up, just head to their website at PleasantPediatrics.com.
Despite the ease and availability of the life saving medicine, not everyone will sign up. It’s something Wolf says they’re working to change. “Like anything else, there’s people who want it and people who don’t, but the people who want it, we really want them to come and get it and we want to educate everyone who maybe doesn’t want it so they can see the importance of it,” said Wolf.
The clinic will receive their first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine by Wednesday and hope to begin vaccinating children by Thursday across their six Valley locations.
Dr. Shad Marvasti, with the University of Arizona College of Medicine, believes the vaccine is safe for teens.
"Everything that we know about the virus so far, particularly for teenagers which is why this age group was the next in line to be able to get data, they really do look a lot more like adults in terms of how they react to the virus. So, the same holds true for the vaccine," says Dr. Shad.
On whether this could help us reach heard immunity, Dr. Shad it says it will definitely get us much closer.
"We definitely have the capacity to get there within the next couple of months if everybody who can get them, gets them. Especially if teens now and eventually children get them. The problem is those who are vaccine hesitant, and that is really a big concern,” says Dr. Shad.
Dr. Shad points out that misinformation is one reason behind that. He is hoping to answer one concern.
"There’s no changing of our actual DNA. It’s just giving an instruction, like a message. to our cells to basically create the protein that is on the virus. Then our bodies create antibodies,” says Dr. Shad.