Children could get their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as early as tomorrow.
A panel of advisors with the Centers for Disease Control voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend giving the Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine to children as young as 12.
The CDC's independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 14-0 in favor of the move, with one recusal.
"This is one more step to gaining immunity and bringing the pandemic closer to an end," said Dr. José Romero, who chairs the panel. "We still need to vaccinate the rest of the world, but we have made significant steps and are on the road."
"The childhood experience that our kids have gone through will have long lasting consequences that may extend across generations, to be honest," said Dr. Grace Lee, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford University who is also on the committee. "We don't really fully yet understand the total physical health, mental health, and educational impact of the pandemic on our kids."
The panel's endorsement of the vaccine is expected to be followed by a formal approval by the CDC. Experts say that children could begin being vaccinated as early as tomorrow.
In a press conference, President Biden encouraged parents to vaccinate their children.
"The vaccine for kids between the ages of 12 and 15 [is] safe, effective, easy, fast and free. My hope is that parents will take advantage," he said.[twitter_embed https://twitter.com/CBSNews/statuses/1392581331729649667 iframe_id="twitter-embed-1392581331729649667" created_ts=1620852237 name="CBS News" embed_mobile_width=375 text="Biden encourages parents to get their children vaccinated after a CDC panel recommended Pfizer's COVID shots for people as young as 12\n\n\"The vaccine for kids between the ages of 12 and 15 [is] safe, effective, easy, fast and free. My hope is that parents will take advantage\"pic.twitter.com/tZJwqYkUKU" padding_desktop=113 embed_desktop_height=622 embed_desktop_width=550 padding_mobile=152 embed_mobile_height=572 id="1392581331729649667" expand=1 screen_name="CBSNews"]
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in children as young as 12. It's the first time the vaccine has been cleared for children that young.
"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. in a statement.
"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."
At the end of March, a clinical trial involving 2,260 twelve to fifteen-year-olds showed the vaccine was 100% effective and well-tolerated in participants.
The Pfizer two-dose vaccine is currently approved for emergency use in the US for people 16 and older.
In the adolescent clinical trial, half the participants received the two-dose Pfizer regimen, and the other half were given placebo shots. Data from Pfizer shows the vaccine triggered a stronger immune response in teenagers than in young adults. During the trial, only 18 cases of COVID-19 were reported among the kids who participated, and all 18 were found in kids who received the placebo shot.
CDC advisers endorse Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, paving way for shots after expected sign-o… https://t.co/swbwrBqaqB— The Washington Post (@The Washington Post) 1620846702.0
Expanding the availability of the vaccine to this age group will be a major boost toward eventual herd immunity. Many parents are anxious to protect their children during summer sports and activities, and ahead of the 2021-2022 school year.
"Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. "With science guiding our evaluation and decision-making process, the FDA can assure the public and medical community that the available data meet our rigorous standards to support the emergency use of this vaccine in the adolescent population 12 years of age and older."
Extending emergency use authorization to children younger than 12 will likely take longer. An official who spoke with CNN explained that younger children will need stronger considerations before official recommendations can be released.
Currently, over 100 million adults in the US have been fully vaccinated. Even though children have been statistically less likely to suffer from severe COVID-19, with variants of the virus being more transmissible overall, the timing of this latest vaccine development is critical—children now account for 22% of new COVID-19 cases in the US.
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