NEW YORK (AP / KDKA) – COVID-19 vaccines are finally on their way to more children as U.S. regulators on Monday expanded the use of Pfizer’s shot to include those ages 12 and older, in a race to protect high school students Middle and high school threw out before returning to class in the fall.
Recordings could begin once a federal vaccine advisory board issues recommendations for the use of the two-dose vaccine in 12-15 year olds, which are expected Wednesday.
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Vaccinating children of all ages is critical to returning to normal. Most of the COVID-19 vaccines launched worldwide are approved for adults. Pfizer’s vaccine is used in several countries for adolescents aged 16 and over, and Canada recently became the first country to expand its use to 12 and up. Parents, school administrators and public health officials are eagerly awaiting the shot to become available to more children.
“This is a turning point in our ability to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Bill Gruber, senior vice president of Pfizer who is also a pediatrician, told The Associated Press.
The Food and Drug Administration declared the Pfizer vaccine safe and provides strong protection for younger adolescents, based on testing by more than 2,000 U.S. volunteers ages 12-15. The study found no cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 dummy shots given in children. More interestingly, the researchers found that the children developed higher levels of antibodies to viruses than previous studies using young adults.
The younger teenagers received the same dose of vaccine as adults and had the same side effects, mostly sore arms and flu-like fever, chills, or pain that signals a strengthened immune system, especially after the second dose.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech recently applied for similar approval in the European Union, with other countries to follow.
The latest news is welcome for U.S. families who are struggling to decide which activities can safely resume if only the youngest family members are left unvaccinated.
“We are still getting notifications that there is COVID in schools,” said Dina Perrino, a mother in Shaler Township.
Perrino said her son doesn’t want to miss any more personal study time, but he’s scared.
“He says, ‘Is it possible that I could be the one who might die because I’m the only one in the house who isn’t vaccinated?”
Other parents said their children’s grades and moods were badly affected because they spent so much time outside of other children and the classroom.
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Reserve Township’s Ron Schwartmier has another big reason he’s hoping his twins can be vaccinated. Your mother is medically vulnerable.
“If the children had gone to school and come home with the COVID, it could be catastrophic for their mother,” said Schwartmier.
Pfizer isn’t the only company trying to lower the age limit on its vaccine. Moderna recently said preliminary results of its study in 12-17 year olds showed strong protection and no serious side effects. Another US company, Novavax, has a late-stage COVID-19 vaccine and has just begun a study in 12-17 year olds.
The next step is to test whether the vaccine is also suitable for younger children. Both Pfizer and Moderna have begun US studies in children aged 6 months to 11 years. These studies investigate whether babies, preschoolers, and elementary school children need different doses than adolescents and adults. Gruber said Pfizer expects its first results sometime this fall.
Outside the US, AstraZeneca is studying its vaccine in 6-17 year olds in the UK. In China, Sinovac recently announced that it had provided preliminary data to Chinese regulators showing that its vaccine is safe in children aged 3 and over.
Children are far less likely to develop COVID-19 than adults, but are severely affected by the pandemic. They account for nearly 14% of the country’s coronavirus cases. At least 296 have died of COVID-19 and more than 15,000 have been hospitalized in the United States alone, according to a record by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
This does not apply to the number of family members who become sick or die – or disrupt school, sports, and other activities that are critical to the general wellbeing of children.
“Children are fighting right now,” said Gruber. In addition, “we need so many people in the country who have the potential to transmit the virus that is to be protected.”
Experts say children must get the shots if the country is to vaccinate the 70% to 85% of the population necessary to achieve what is known as herd immunity.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that unvaccinated people – including children – should continue to take precautions, such as: B. wearing masks indoors and staying away from other unvaccinated people outside of their households.
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