FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for 12-15 year olds
May 29, 2021
On May 10, the Food and Drug Administration extended the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to 12-15 year olds, adhering to the emergency use authorization process. The same dosage and regimen apply to the age group as it does to adolescents 16 and older: two doses administered three weeks apart.
“I’m 15 and I got my vaccine on May 14. The process was super smooth at Montgomery College, probably because they were able to figure everything out while the adults were getting their vaccines,” freshman Maya Siegal said. “By the time I was eligible, they had everything figured out!”
The decision follows an ongoing clinical trial including 2,260 participants in the 12-15 age range. The results of the trial concluded that the vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 for vaccine recipients, there being 16 cases of COVID-19 for those who received the placebo, according to a recent article by the Food and Drug Administration.
The immune response of the participants and the side effects they experienced were comparable to that of older participants.
“My siblings just turned 12 and 14, so the age range was kind of perfect,” Siegal said. “I think they both feel the same way I do about getting vaccinated, and none of us had side effects beyond sore arms.”
The trial tested the comparison of vaccine triggered immune responses in adolescents and adults, known as an “immune bridging” trial, according to the Washington Post. Researchers have made use of this method in extending vaccines proven to be safe and successful to adolescents or other demographics in the past.
“As the elderly, immunocompromised, high risk adults, etc. are getting vaccinated, children should be getting the vaccine as well,” senior Vergiel Ariaga, who completed the Medical Careers Program at the Edison High School of Technology and has worked at Holy Cross Hospital administering vaccines, said. “As the trials show a positive outlook for children to receive the vaccine, it’ll only improve our way to herd immunity, and beat this virus.”
According to the New York Times, vaccinating children has an essential role in nearing herd immunity and limiting the spread of the coronavirus, with children making up 23 percent of the population. Although the youth have been determined to be less efficient in spreading the virus, research is still being conducted on their involvement in transmission. Their participation may provide insight for vaccine use and related procedures in coming years.
“I never really knew the toll it takes on a medical professional,” Ariaga said. “But being that medical professional administering the vaccine, it is harder than just ‘poking’ people. It gets tiring after a while, but as a medical professional, and trying to help the community, we sacrifice in order to make the community better.”
“It’s important that we trust the medical professionals because, well, they’re the experts,” Siegal said. “This goes beyond just the COVID-19 vaccine; it applied to masking and distancing earlier in the pandemic, and it should apply to any safety measures in the future should another virus come up.”
Getting vaccinations can heighten surety in returning to school, in-person activities, and most of all, a semblance of normalcy.
“It is all a positive step in getting back to ‘normal’ and hopefully will help with a smooth and more ‘regular’ reopening of the High School for SY 21/22,” Richard Montgomery High School Community Health Nurse, Julie Olson, RN, MSN, said.
BioNTech is undertaking vaccine trials for children six months to 12 years old, and their findings are predicted to be available in the final half of 2021. The Moderna vaccine has also been engaged in clinical trials for 12-17 year olds and will be providing conclusive data in coming weeks, according to the New York Times article.