Most middle school students may soon be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer received authorization today from the Food and Drug Administration to administer its vaccine to children as young as 12. Its previous authorization covered anyone 16 years of age and older.
This signals a new phase in the vaccination campaign, as most school-age kids have not yet been eligible. However, the vaccine faces one more step before it could become widely available for 12- to 15-year-olds.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel will meet to discuss the recommendation for the use of the vaccine in the new age range. If it gives the OK, then vaccinations for that group can begin in earnest. The federal agency has not yet said how long that would take, but for previous authorizations the advisory panel has only taken a few days to come to a decision.
In a study of 2,260 children of that age group, Pfizer noted 18 cases of COVID-19 in the placebo group and none in the vaccination group, indicating strong protection. The company is also testing the vaccine in children as young as 2, and it plans to extend that to 6-month-olds in coming months.
Moderna is also testing its COVID-19 vaccine in younger kids, and results of the study for 12- to 17-year olds are expected soon.