Pfizer revealed on Wednesday that it’s coronavirus vaccine is safe and very effective for younger teens, kids as young as 12-years-old, which is a step in the direction of having shots administered to this demographic before heading back to school in the fall.
Most of the coronavirus vaccines that have been rolled out thus far have been for adults who are at a much higher risk from the illness than children seem to be. Pfizer’s vaccine is currently authorized for ages 16 and up.
Vaccinating kids of all ages, according to the experts, is critical in stopping the pandemic and ensuring children are back in the classroom.
In a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given dummy shots, Pfizer reported.
It’s a small study, that hasn’t yet been published, so another important piece of evidence is how well the shots revved up the kids’ immune systems. Researchers reported high levels of virus-fighting antibodies, somewhat higher than were seen in studies of young adults.
Kids had side effects similar to young adults, the company said. The main side effects are pain, fever, chills and fatigue, particularly after the second dose. The study will continue to track participants for two years for more information about long-term protection and safety.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in the coming weeks plan to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European regulators to allow emergency use of the shots starting at age 12.
“We share the urgency to expand the use of our vaccine,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla went on to say in a recent statement. He then expressed the “hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year” in the United States.
Moderna is also hoping to get the age limit for the vaccine lowered soon.