HAPPY NICE TIME SIGH OF RELIEF, It Is Time To Vaxx Up Your Middle School Kids!
As expected, the Food and Drug Administration on Monday gave emergency authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine to be given to kids aged 12 to 15. That means kids in middle school can get vaccinated in time for summer activities and before school starts in the fall, and we'll all be just that much closer to something like having the pandemic under control.
There's just one more regulatory step to get through, a meeting Wednesday of the vaccine advisory committee, which is likely to recommend the vaccine for use. After that, kids 12 and up could start being vaccinated as soon as this week.
The new authorization is hella good news, as NPR points out, since it
expands the pool of eligible vaccine recipients to about 87% of the total U.S. population, covering an additional 17 million children, and comes at a time when people under age 18 account for one 1 of every 5 newly reported coronavirus infections.
Even though children are less likely to experience severe cases of COVID-19, it's still important to get them vaccinated, especially since kids in middle and high school are at more risk of getting the disease than elementary-aged kids.
There's every indication the Pfizer vaccine works very well with young teens. In the company's study of more than 2,000 kids, not a single child given the vaccine had a symptomatic case of COVID-19, but in the group given a placebo, 18 kids became infected. The vaccinated kids also showed a "robust" antibody response that appears to be even better than in a previous study of 16- to 25-year-olds.
The younger group had about the same range of side effects as adults do, mostly on the day after the second injection, ranging from injection site soreness, headaches, and fatigue to chills and muscle pain. Around 20 percent of the 12- to 15-year-olds also experienced fevers.
The authorization of a vaccine for older kids comes well ahead of Dr. Anthony Fauci's April suggestion that we'd be able to vaccinate middle and high schoolers by the fall, and maybe younger kids in early 2022. Pfizer says it's doing clinical trials for children aged two to 11 now, and expects to request authorizations for the vaccine to be used for those age groups in September. For infants, it's shooting for November. And the company has just filed the paperwork for full FDA authorization of the vaccine for adults, a regulatory step beyond the emergency-use authorization already granted.
The other two vaccines currently authorized for use in adults aged 18 and up, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are undergoing trials in teens and kids as well.
The emergence of highly infectious variants of the coronavirus, plus the mulish refusal of large parts of the population to get vaccinated, has led to uncertainty about whether the US will actually reach herd immunity for the virus (our apologies to mules). But that makes it all the more important that as many people as possible get vaccinated. Parents who are hesitant to get themselves or their kids vaccinated might be more reassured to know that doctors aren't worried at all about getting their kids vaccinated, as the New York Times notes:
Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, said she had "zero safety concerns" about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, noting that hundreds of millions of people worldwide have received it.
Her 12-year-old daughter is eager to be vaccinated, and her 9-year-old son will be immunized as soon as he is eligible, she said.
"The risk of your child catching Covid and getting really sick is low, but it's not zero," she said. "And the risk of them getting sick or hospitalized or worse with Covid or with the post-Covid multi-inflammatory syndrome is higher than the risk of something bad from this vaccine." [...]
"It also protects all of us from the virus continuing to spread and mutating further," Dr. Ranney said. "That's the thing that I'm most scared of right now."
We're getting so close to beating this thing. And now we can look forward to middle schoolers using their magical peer-pressure powers to help move the process along.
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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.