On Monday (May 10), the federal Food and Drug Administration announced that it would approve the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 under its emergency use authorization.
The Pfizer vaccine was previously approved for use in people as young as 16. It is the first vaccine approved for use in teens in the United States.
“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, in a statement. “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.”
The CDC will still need to approve the vaccine before it is used.
According to the FDA, about 1.5 million children aged 11 to 17 were diagnosed with COVID-19. The younger patients will still get two doses three weeks apart, according to the FDA.
The FDA reported that in a clinical trial, younger patients reported the same side-effects as adults. In a trial involving 1,005 vaccine recipients, no cases of COVID-19 were reported.
“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, 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.”
Okanogan County Public Health is asking people in the community who have received the COVID-19 vaccine to share their story to help combat vaccine hesitancy in the area.
To participate, public health is asking people to send a photo and a short answer to one of several questions including: “What is one activity you got to say ‘yes’ to because you got vaccinated?” “What is something you’re looking forward to doing because you’re vaccinated?” and “What is something about the vaccine experience that inspired you?”
Responses can be sent to Okanogan County Public Health on Facebook or Instagram, or by email to email@example.com.
By the numbers
As of Monday, Okanogan County had given 31,392 doses of COVID-19, with 15,163 residents fully vaccinated. Statewide, 44.57% of the population had received at least one shot and 32.47% were fully vaccinated. In Okanogan County, 41.03% had at least one shot and 35.16% were fully vaccinated.