ATLANTA (WRIC) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday that they will be expanding the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include children from the ages of 12 to 15.
This is the first vaccine authorized for that age group in the United States. Canada authorized use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for the same age group on May 5.
The FDA first authorized use of the vaccine for everyone aged 16 and older on Dec. 11, 2020.
“The FDA’s expansion of the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age is a significant step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “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. Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”
According to CDC data, since the pandemic began spreading in the U.S. around 1.5 million adolescents aged 11 to 17 have contracted the virus. In Virginia there have been 72,087 cases of COVID-19 reported in the age group 10 to 19.
Virginia Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula says the Commonwealth has to wait for additional federal approval before moving forward with administering vaccines to adolescents. Avula says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) plans to meet Wednesday and make a recommendation to CDC on if the vaccine is safe for the 12 to 15 age group.
Until the CDC approves Pfizer for use on that age group the state will not be offering them the vaccine.
“We are encouraged by the FDA’s action and its support of the vaccine’s use in those 12 and older,” Avula said. “Virginia already has begun planning for the expansion of vaccine availability to this age group, including having discussions with local health districts, school systems, pediatricians and other physicians, and our pharmacy partners.”