The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said May 10 that children 12 to 15 years old are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. The FDA expanded its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine following results of clinical trials among the age group. A health advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the FDA recommendation May 12. With these latest clearances, BJC experts say it’s another step toward getting people back to what they love to do.
“With the committee’s recommendation, immunizations for this age group can begin immediately,” says Mike Lauer, BJC HealthCare executive director of emergency preparedness. The American Academy of Pediatrics also endorsed the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 years and older.
“It is super exciting to have the Pfizer vaccine available for children ages 12-15,” says Jason Newland, MD, professor of pediatrics at Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Clinical trials found that this vaccine is 100% effective in this age group and very safe. We learned in the trial that 18 of the 12- to 15-year-olds who didn’t receive the vaccine got COVID-19 — while of the more than 1,000 children ages 12 to 15 who were vaccinated, zero got COVID-19.”
Dr. Newland says the side effects in children are similar to those seen in adults — including a sore arm, fatigue, muscle ache, chills and/or a fever — and are seen more frequently after the second dose.
BJC is following guidance from the state with regard to vaccination logistics, such as proof of age. “A parent or legal guardian has to be present for the vaccination and to attest to the child’s age during the consent process,” says Lauer. “They do not need to bring proof of age.”
BJC HealthCare is now accepting vaccination appointments for children ages 12-15 years. Schedule one here.
Expanding authorization of the vaccine to children 12 to 15 years of age opens COVID-19 vaccination to another 5% of the U.S. population, nearly 17 million more people. The expanded authorization means 85% of the U.S. population is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
While children have been less impacted by this virus, Dr. Newland says they can still spread it to loved ones. “So adding another age group to receive the vaccine gives us a brighter light at the end of the tunnel,” he says. “We are closer to attending sold out St. Louis Cardinals games, concerts and movie theaters again — and doing things we have been missing for so long. Getting more people vaccinated gets us that much closer to participating in what we love to do.”