On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of the COVID-19 made by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, for younger teens, declaring it as both safe and effective. With the recent decision, youth ages 12 to 15 could qualify for shots within days.
Just last week, President Joe Biden said 20,000 pharmacy locations nationwide remain prepared to begin vaccinating adolescents once the necessary approvals come through.
Shots also will be available soon through pediatricians’ offices, the president said. “And if teens are on the move this summer, they can get their first shot in one place and a second shot elsewhere.”
Older teens, ages 16 and 17, have been allowed to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine since its authorization in December. The other two vaccines authorized for use in the U.S., from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, remain unavailable to minors as studies continue.
“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 Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner in a statement Monday. “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.”
Although such cases remain rare, adolescents can become seriously ill from COVID-19 and can spread it to others.
“My hope is that if the vaccine is authorized, parents will take advantage of it and get their kids vaccinated,” Biden said.
From March 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, about 1.5 million adolescents, ages 11-17, tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many parents indicate they’re anxious to get their children vaccinated so their families can safely visit older relatives and their teens can get back to school and extracurricular and social activities.