The CDC panel recommends admission for youngsters aged 12 to 15
Teens ages 12-15 should get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and they can get their other routine vaccinations as well, a federal advisory council said Wednesday.
The Panel of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met to discuss the vaccine’s safety, immune response and effectiveness in this age group after the Food and Drug Administration signed the recordings on Monday.
The same Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices signed the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for adults and adolescents aged 16-17 last December. Fourteen members of the committee approved the lowering of the age limit to 12 years on Wednesday, with one member apologizing.
As a precaution, the original recommendation for COVID-19 vaccines included a two-week time window for separation between a COVID-19 vaccine and another vaccine so that the cause of side effects can be identified and safety data can be collected.
The recommendation was updated on Wednesday by the Committee for All Ages, said Dr. Kate Woodworth of the CDC
In a statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended the COVID-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents 12 years and older who have no medical reason not to do so.
The academy also supports children and adolescents receiving the COVID-19 vaccine along with other vaccines, “given the importance of routine vaccination and the need for rapid absorption of COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, representative of the academy on the advisory board. She is Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine.
So many children have defaulted on their vaccinations during the pandemic that getting all the shots at once helps, said LJ Tan, chief strategy officer of the Immunization Action Coalition.
“This is necessary to ensure that we can continue to achieve coverage from COVID-19 for routine youth vaccines as well as catch-up vaccines,” he said.
Pfizer-BioNTech tested the vaccine in more than 1,000 adolescents and gave an equal number a placebo. Among the 2,260 participants, only 16 developed COVID-19, all of whom received the placebo.
None of the teenagers had a severe reaction to the vaccine and the biggest side effect in teenagersHeadache and arm pain occurred in COVID-19 vaccine trials. The advisory board said it was okay for parents to give pain medication to their children after the shot, Woodworth said.
COVID-19 is one of the top ten leading causes of death in adolescents ages 12-17 today, said Dr. Sara Oliver, Co-Leader of the ACIP COVID-19 Vaccines Work Group. The disease accounted for 1.3% of all adolescent deaths between January 1, 2020 and April 30, for a total of 127 deaths.
“While this sounds quiet, it’s worth noting that this is still among the top 10 causes of death in children,” said Oliver.
Teenagers aged 12 to 17 are also at risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19. To date, more than 1.5 million cases and more than 13,000 hospitalizations have been reported in this age group, Oliver said.
They are also more likely to transmit COVID-19 to people in their households and communities than younger children, she added.
Other vaccine manufacturers are also testing their recordings on teenagers, but have not yet completed their studies or applied for permission to distribute their recordings to minors.
Pfizer-BioNTech and the others are also testing their vaccines in three groups of younger children who are declining in age: 5-11 year olds, 2-4 year olds, and 6 month to 2 year olds -old.
The first of these studies in older children is expected to be completed in late summer or early fall. However, vaccines are unlikely to be available to these age groups before the start of the school year.
It may take until the end of the calendar year or early next year to have enough data on the youngest children, Pfizer-BioNTech said, as they may need lower doses of the vaccine that need testing.
According to surveys by Oliver, 46% to 60% of parents plan to vaccinate their children against COVID-19.
When teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 were asked if they wanted to be vaccinated, 51% said they definitely wanted to, and 20% weren’t sure, she said.
The ACIP working group expected a rapid ramp-up to make the vaccine available to younger adolescents.
A back-to-school campaign is to be launched from July to September. Getting vaccines for this age group would involve working with federal health centers, pharmacies, public health and youth provider networks to run programs in schools, the committee said.
It is unclear whether teenagers need to be vaccinated in school districts and summer programs as recordings are now available to them. Many colleges have announced that they expect students to be vaccinated before arriving on campus in the fall.
“This is a big step for our country. Vaccinating a younger population brings us closer to a return to a sense of normalcy and an end to the pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock on Monday.
Featuring: Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY