BALTIMORE — The US Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Monday to include people ages 12 to 15. Now health leaders are waiting on word from the CDC if it's okay to administer the vaccine.
An advisory committee meeting on the immunization practices is scheduled to meet Wednesday.
"This is really exciting and important," said Dr. Aaron Milstone, an infectious disease specialist and pediatrician with Johns Hopkins. "The longer the virus continues to spread in the community the greater the chances that it will mutate. We obviously want to get as many people vaccinated as possible and that includes the younger population."
Vaccinations for 12-to-15-year-olds are not expected to begin until after recommendation but local doctors believe it could happen be the end of the week.
The Biden administration has said it will quickly mobilize to ready vaccinations for 12-to-15-year-olds through the federal pharmacy program, pediatricians and family doctors.
"We're encouraging everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine," said Dr. Milstone. "For parents who still have questions or concerns I want them to know these vaccines are safe and well tolerated. We really should be encouraging people to get them."
If the CDC gives the green light individual states can then make the decision on who gives the vaccines, and when.
Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said mass vaccinations in the county are ready to vaccinate the new age group but are waiting on official word.
"We don’t need approval from the state, per say," said Dr. Kalyanaraman. We just them to update their scheduling system so that we can schedule 12-15 year olds and they’re prepared to do that."