Vaccination for teens is on the horizon, and that’s a big deal.
The low end of the goal for vaccination, to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, is 70 percent. Ideally, every single person who is medically able will take the vaccine, but 70 percent will let us all breathe easier (literally). But currently, a large obstacle to that goal is that children aren’t eligible for any of the available vaccines. 1.9 billion children, ages 15 and under in the world make up 27 percent of the population, almost entirely filling that leeway. In short, if no children can be vaccinated, every adult has to be, or we will not achieve herd immunity.
Wednesday, March 31, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that their COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in teenagers. The findings are based on a trial with 2,200 teenagers ages 12-15, run alongside their much larger adult trial. None of the teenagers injected with the trial drug caught coronavirus, compared with 18 of those who received the placebo. Side effects mirrored those in adults and were mild, including a sore arm, fatigue, and headache.
Pfizer is now seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA to widely distribute existing stock of their vaccine among the new age group in the United States.
“We share the urgency to expand the authorization of our vaccine to use in younger populations and are encouraged by the clinical trial data from adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15,” said Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer.
The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed, which will be a part of the FDA approval process. With new, more infectious versions of the virus moving into the U.S. and increasing pressure for adolescents to be back in the classroom, vaccinations for teens are more and more crucial. Pfizer hopes to begin vaccinating this age group before school begins in September.