The CDC is accepting the recommendation of their advisory panel and is now recommending the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people as young as 12.
Just hours after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted Wednesday afternoon to recommend the vaccine in 12 to 15 year olds, the CDC agreed.
CDC now recommends Pfizer-BioNTech #COVID19 vaccine for use in 12- through 15-year-old adolescents. Providers may begin vaccinating them right away. See full statement from @CDCDirector Dr. Rochelle Walensky: https://t.co/OyFn44JWN1 pic.twitter.com/lmnVab3jJc— CDC (@CDCgov) May 12, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention often go along with the ACIP's recommendations on immunizations.
"This official CDC action opens vaccination to approximately 17 million adolescents in the United States and strengthens our nation’s efforts to protect even more people from the effects of COVID-19," reads the official statement from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. "Getting adolescents vaccinated means their faster return to social activities and can provide parents and caregivers peace of mind knowing their family is protected."
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to include 12 to 15-year-olds. The company's original authorization given in December was for people 16 and older.
In a phase 3 trial, Pfizer said the vaccine was 100% effective in this age group. During Wednesday's ACIP meeting, the company presented safety data, sharing that side effects were mostly fatigue, headaches, chills, muscle pain, as well as fever, which were more significant after the second dose.
Experts also shared a breakdown of total COVID cases by age group in the US. Dr. Sara Oliver with the CDC and NCIRD said as more adults are vaccinated, people 12 to 17 years old make up a greater proportion of total cases.
“In April, 9 percent of cases were age 12 to 17 years, which actually represents a larger proportion of total cases than adults 65 years of age and older," said Oliver.
Experts also shared when evaluating surveys among parents about their intent to have children vaccinated, they found 46 to 60 percent of parents surveyed said they plan to get their children vaccinated. Surveys revealed reasons not to vaccinate included not being sure it will be safe and that the vaccine was developed too quickly.
USF Health's Dr. Michael Teng weighed in on herd immunity and the importance of getting kids vaccinated.
“Especially with middle school and high schoolers, they tend to be pretty social in school and out of school with extracurricular activities and things like that," said Teng. "This is a real big part of how we’re trying to prevent spread back up to the adults from the kids, is to try to prevent spread in the younger populations."
The approval has been expected and some vaccination providers had started giving doses, while others were starting waiting lists ahead of the federal approval.
CVS and Walgreens started scheduling appointments Wednesday.
CVS said vaccinations will start tomorrow at locations offering Pfizer. Consent from a parent or legal guardian is required and a child must be with an adult. Walk-ins are also accepted. Walgreens said same-day appointments will be available starting tomorrow.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management expects state-supported sites to begin administering the vaccine Thursday at sites offering the Pfizer vaccine. Those 12-17 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If a parent or guardian can’t accompany them, they should contact their county health department.
"We are anxious to get started. This is a population that actually has high rates of infection right now, if you look it’s the young adults and the teenagers that are kind of driving the infection rates in Hillsborough County and not all of them are asymptomatic. We have teenagers in the hospital on oxygen so I think it’s important people realize this is not always an asymptomatic infection in children and in teenagers," said Dr. Patricia Emmanuel, a professor and chair of pediatrics for USF Health.
"It’s a step towards normalcy, especially for kids. I think children have been affected much more than we anticipated during this pandemic and getting kids back to a normal life of going to school, being with their friends, being able to participate in activities without having to worry about being quarantined I think that is a huge game-changer," said Dr. Lisa Gwynn, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics and public health sciences at the University of Miami.
Moderna is also running trials of their COVID-19 vaccine on younger patients.