CDC Panel to Consider Covid-19 Vaccine for 12-to-15-Year-Olds
By Jared S. Hopkins and Betsy McKay
A federal advisory panel is scheduled to meet Wednesday to
decide whether to recommend adolescents receive the Covid-19
vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
U.S. regulators on Monday approved the two-dose shot for use in
children as young as 12 years old, the first Covid-19 vaccine for
children in the nation. Now the Advisory Committee on Immunization
Practices, or ACIP, which advises the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention on vaccination policy, will review clinical trial
data and other relevant information.
The 15-member panel consists of pediatricians,
infectious-disease doctors and other medical experts. Its meeting
is scheduled to start Wednesday morning. The panel is expected to
vote on recommending the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for
adolescents in the afternoon.
Many parents, school officials and health authorities are eager
for children to receive vaccinations in time for summer camps and
the start of the next school year. Health authorities expect
children to be vaccinated at pharmacies, physician offices and
existing mass-vaccination sites.
Some pediatricians and vaccine sites began administering shots
Tuesday, but most are waiting for a formal recommendation from
ACIP. The advisory committee will review data to determine whether
the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be recommended for the entire
population of 12-to-15-year-olds or whether it should be restricted
to certain subgroups. A committee recommendation becomes policy
when the CDC's director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, signs it.
State health departments, hospitals and other vaccination sites
have said this week they were preparing to administer shots
There are nearly 17 million children ages 12 to 15 in the U.S.,
according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health nonprofit.
Children are at lower risk of Covid-19 infection than adults,
according to health experts, and when they are infected, they tend
to experience milder symptoms. Yet some children can become
seriously ill and some can spread the virus.
"We all want to get past this pandemic, and the more people who
get vaccinated, the better," said Sean O'Leary, a professor of
pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and
liaison to ACIP for the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. "If
everyone in a family can get vaccinated, that makes a huge
difference. This summer, families will be able to do a lot more
things more comfortably than with the risk of getting Covid-19,
since these vaccines are so effective."
At Wednesday's meeting, ACIP members are expected to discuss
results of the Pfizer-BioNTech study of 2,260 adolescents that
found the two-dose shot was 100% effective at protecting against
symptomatic Covid-19 in 12- to 15-year-olds. Researchers found
children who received the vaccine generated an immune response
similarly strong as in adults. No serious safety concerns were
found in that study, according to the companies.
So far, researchers haven't found evidence the vaccine poses any
additional or different risks to children versus adults. The most
common side effects of the vaccine are flulike symptoms such as
fever, muscle aches and chills, according to the CDC.
The Pfizer-BioNTech shot has become the most widely used shot in
the U.S. since regulators cleared it in December for use in people
16 years and older after a trial involving 44,000 subjects. More
than 1 million Americans who are under age 18 have received the
vaccine, according to the CDC.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is among three authorized for use in
the U.S., along with shots from Moderna Inc. and Johnson &
Covid-19 vaccines for children under 12 years may be available
in the U.S. by the end of the year. Pfizer anticipates asking the
Food and Drug Administration in September to authorize its
vaccine's use in children 2 to 11 years old should ongoing studies
prove positive. It plans to make a similar request for children 6
months to 2 years of age in the fourth quarter, Pfizer said.
Write to Jared S. Hopkins at email@example.com and Betsy
McKay at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 12, 2021 07:14 ET (11:14 GMT)
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