The federal Food and Drug Administration yesterday (5/10) granted Pfizer’s request to authorize the use of its COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12-15. This follows the FDA’s action earlier this year approving emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents ages 16-17. Thus far, the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine to have been approved for those under age 18.
The new emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine opens the possibility of vaccinations to millions of children nationwide, including roughly 300,000 in Wisconsin. Infectious disease experts believe vaccination is an important step for increasing immunity in the population and preventing new variants from gaining a bigger foothold.
It could also be a boost to getting and keeping students in classrooms. Some middle and high schools have struggled with plans for physically reopening because it is more difficult to cohort students and staff at those grade levels into groups that stay together throughout the day.
There is one more step in the federal approval process before shots can begin to be administered. A CDC vaccine advisory is expected to meet tomorrow (Wednesday, 5/12) to approve recommendations on the use of the vaccine for students ages 12-15. This will clear the way for shots to be administered.