COVID-19 vaccines are finally aimed at more children as US regulators on Monday extended use of Pfizer’s vaccine to those as young as 12, sparking a race to protect middle and high school students ahead of return to class in the fall. The injections could begin as soon as a federal vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations for the use of the two-dose vaccine in 12 to 15 year olds, scheduled for Wednesday.
Immunizing children of all ages will be essential for a return to normalcy. Most of the COVID-19 vaccines deployed around the world have been authorized for adults. Pfizer’s vaccine is used in several countries for adolescents as young as 16, and Canada recently became the first to expand its use to ages 12 and older. Parents, school administrators and public health officials anxiously await the vaccine to be available to more children.
This is a watershed moment in our ability to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Bill Gruber, senior vice president of Pfizer who is also a pediatrician, told The Associated Press.
The Food and Drug Administration has said the Pfizer vaccine is safe and offers strong protection for younger adolescents based on tests on more than 2,000 U.S. volunteers aged 12 to 15. The study found no cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 in children. gave fictitious blows. More intriguingly, the researchers found that children developed higher levels of anti-virus antibodies than previous studies measured in young adults.
Younger adolescents received the same dose of the vaccine as adults and had the same side effects, mainly sore arms and flu-like fever, chills or body aches that signal an invigorated immune system, especially after the second. dose. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech recently applied for a similar authorization in the European Union, with other countries to follow.
The latest news is welcome for American families struggling to decide what activities can safely resume when only the youngest family members are not vaccinated. I can’t feel totally comfortable because my boys aren’t vaccinated, said Carrie Vittitoe, a substitute teacher and freelance writer in Louisville, Ky., Who is fully vaccinated, as are her husband and 17-year-old daughter. .
The FDA ruling means her 13-year-old son may soon be eligible, leaving only his 11-year-old son who would not be vaccinated. The family has yet to resume church activities and summer vacation will be a road trip so they don’t have to fly. We can’t really get back to normal because two-fifths of our family don’t have protection, Vittitoe said.
Pfizer is not the only company seeking to lower the age limit for its vaccine. Moderna recently said that preliminary results from his study in 12-17 year olds show strong protection and no serious side effects. Another American company, Novavax, has a COVID-19 vaccine at an advanced stage of development and has just started a study in young people aged 12 to 17 as well.
The next step is to test whether the vaccine is effective for even younger children. Pfizer and Moderna both started American studies in children aged 6 months to 11 years. These studies explore whether babies, preschoolers, and elementary-aged children will need different doses than adolescents and adults. Gruber said Pfizer expects its first results in the fall.
Outside the United States, AstraZeneca is studying its vaccine in children aged 6 to 17 in Britain. And in China, Sinovac recently announced that it has submitted preliminary data to Chinese regulators showing that its vaccine is safe in children as young as 3 years old.
Children are much less likely than adults to become seriously ill from COVID-19, but they have always been hit hard by the pandemic. They represent nearly 14% of the country’s coronavirus cases. At least 296 have died from COVID-19 in the United States alone and more than 15,000 have been hospitalized, according to a count from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
That doesn’t count the number of family members who fall ill or die – or the disruptions to school, sports and other activities so crucial to the overall well-being of children. Children are currently struggling, said Gruber. In addition, we need as many people in the country who have the potential to transmit the virus to be protected.
Experts say children must get vaccinated if the country is to vaccinate the 70 to 85 percent of the population needed to achieve what’s called herd immunity.
In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says unvaccinated people – including children – should continue to take precautions such as wearing masks indoors and keep away from other unvaccinated people. outside their home.