The Food and Drug Administration is likely to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in kids aged 12 to 15 soon, either as soon as the end of this week, according to the New York Times, or early next week, according to CNN. The vaccine is currently authorized for people aged 16 and up. (The other two vaccines currently in US use, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have been OK'd for those 18 and up; they're also in trials for adolescents.)

This is a big deal, since we're starting to reach the point where demand for vaccinations among adults is starting to slack off. Getting the vaccine to a new age group may help the US move a bit closer to herd immunity. And of course it will be a huge relief to parents who want to get their teens into summer activities and back to school in the fall.


A March 31 Pfizer press release reported that trials of the company's vaccine had "demonstrated 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses" in the age group, and that the vaccine was "well tolerated" in younger trial participants. None of the participants in the adolescent trial had developed symptomatic infections; the kids' rate of side effects was about the same as among participants aged 16 to 25.

Pfizer's application to extend the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to cover ages 12 to 15 would not require a new meeting of the independent FDA advisory panel — the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee — that initially approved the emergency authorization, CNN reports.

Once the FDA approves any extension of the EUA for an existing vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will follow up with a meeting of its "Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices," which will advise the agency on whether to recommend the vaccine's use for adolescents. The final decision on such a recommendation would be up to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, unless Joe Biden tweets at 3 AM that he thinks it should be given to everyone, even pets.

CNN also reports that this morning, Pfizer said that as clinical trials among younger kids progress, it plans to request emergency authorizations in September for two younger groups; those aged two to five years, and five- to eleven-year-olds. At some point after that, in late 2021, it expects to request authorization for children aged 6 months to two years as well.

Moderna is also testing its vaccine on kids aged 6 months to 17 years old, and is expected to ask for FDA authorization in coming months.

This all sounds really encouraging! Get ready for a whole new round of rightwing outrage, however, the minute any school district anywhere requires that kids over 12 have proof of vaccination before they return to school full time. The whining will go something like this: "Nobody required kids to be vaccinated when school resumed in fall 2020, so why are they demanding it now?" Then when you point out there were no vaccines in fall 2020, they'll call you a hypocrite and probably invoke Ben Franklin or something, the end.

[NYT / CNN]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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