As we move deeper into the vaccination phase of the pandemic era, an impending milestone that’s long been discussed is the opening up of available vaccine options to children. By next week, thankfully, at least one available vaccine—the two-dose Pfizer and BioNTech option—is expected to be authorized by the FDA for people between the ages of 12 and 15.
The authorization is set to be made official no later than early next week, according to a New York Times report citing federal officials with knowledge of the agency’s plans. Following such approval, a CDC advisory panel is expected to hold a meeting in which trial data is discussed and recommendations for administering vaccines in the 12-15 demographic are made.
In March, Pfizer announced positive topline results from its COVID-19 vaccine study in adolescents. In a Phase 3 trial in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age with or without prior evidence of infection, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine demonstrated 100-percent efficacy, as well as robust antibody responses. In the same press release, Pfizer said it had dosed the first healthy children as part of a study into the efficacy of the vaccine in children six months to 11 years of age.
“Across the globe, we are longing for a normal life. This is especially true for our children,” Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said at the time. “The initial results we have seen in the adolescent studies suggest that children are particularly well protected by vaccination, which is very encouraging given the trends we have seen in recent weeks regarding the spread of the B.1.1.7 UK variant. It is very important to enable them to get back to everyday school life and to meet friends and family while protecting them and their loved ones.”
Public health officials are already preparing to administer vaccines to children 12 to 15 years of age ahead of the expected FDA authorization. As detailed in a Deadline report published Monday night, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department has already drafted up consent forms.
“We are working with people across the county so that as soon as we can use that vaccine—the Pfizer vaccine—on 12 to 15-year-olds, we’re ready,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
News of the impending authorization for younger people comes amid worries of the U.S. failing to achieve herd immunity due in part to those who refuse to get the vaccine. As of late April, per the White House, more than 100 million Americans had been fully vaccinated.