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Pfizer to apply for vaccine use in 12 to 15-year-olds

Posted at 5:58 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 12:19:30-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — The FDA is expected to authorize Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for teens by next week, setting up shots for many before the beginning of the next school year.

According to a federal official and a person familiar with the process, it could all happen within a matter of days.

Doctors and parents said it’s great news for returning kids to school in the fall, and maybe a little more normalcy over the summer.

"I’m so relieved. I’m so excited," said Harford County parent Katharine Denny. "I’m looking forward to getting him back in person. I think that’s a much better environment for him."

Denny said she will be first in line when her 13-year-old son can finally get a coronavirus vaccine.

"He doesn’t love the idea of a shot but he’s very excited," said Denny. "I think he’s just ready to see his friends and do things."

The FDA action would be followed by a meeting of a federal vaccine advisory committee to discuss whether to recommend the shot for 12 to 15-year-olds. Then the CDC would act on the committee's recommendation.

Earlier this year, Pfizer announced their vaccine is 100 percent effective against the virus in children ages 12 to 15. Though Dr. Christopher Thomspon said this can be a little misleading. They didn’t have to have as many participants in this trial because it was already proven effective with adults.

"It’s 100% effective technically but there’s still gonna be some breakthrough; nothing is a magic bullet," said Thompson, an associate professor of biology at Loyola University.

Thompson said the important data is about safety. Pfizer said the vaccine was “well tolerated” by the age group, with participants experiences similar side effects as adults.

"Headaches, fatigue, fever, flu-like symptoms for about 24 hours but nothing out of the ordinary and nothing scary," said Thompson.

For people who are hesitant, Thompson and Denny both say: ask questions, reach out to doctors, rely on the science and not misinformation.

"There’s no evidence of infertility for example, or that there’s anything in it other than the mRNA and a couple small molecules. It’s very safe," said Thompson.

"Basically what I've told people is that I’m following the science and science is really showing us that it is safe," said Denny.

Thompson said while it’s important to keep opening up age groups to get vaccinated, there is still work to be done with groups currently approved. Gov. Larry Hogan said 62 percent of Marylanders 18 and older have gotten at least one shot.

Companies are also focusing on even younger populations. Pfizer launched a trial for children ages 6 months to 11 years old and Moderna announced a trial with a similar age group, which the University of Maryland School of Medicine is participating in.