Coronavirus vaccines will be made available to more children in the United States, as regulators on Monday extended the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab to those as young as 12, sparking a race to protect students before returning to class later this year.
Injections could begin as early as Thursday, after a federal vaccine advisory committee issued recommendations for the use of the two-dose vaccine in children 12 to 15 years old. An announcement is expected Wednesday.
Most of the COVID-19 vaccines around the world have been licensed for adults. Pfizer’s vaccine is used in several countries for adolescents as young as 16 years old, and Canada recently became the first to expand its use to 12 years and older.
Parents, school administrators and public health officials elsewhere have eagerly awaited approval for the vaccine to be made available to more children.
US President Joe Biden issued a statement calling the authorization “a promising development in our fight against the virus.”
“If you are a parent who wants to protect your child or a teenager who wants to be vaccinated, today’s decision is one more step towards that goal,” he said.
Most children with COVID-19 develop only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, children are not without risk of becoming seriously ill and can still spread the virus. There have been outbreaks related to sporting events and other activities for children between the ages of 12 and 15.
Dr William Gruber, a senior scientist at Pfizer, said authorizing the vaccine for young adolescents would help the United States expand its immune population and protect an age group that has not been fully spared from serious illness.
“I hear from pediatricians and members of the community about how much of a boon this is going to be for the teenage population that has been restricted in terms of sports, theater clubs and other kinds of things that we are doing. naturally want them to engage. Said Gruber.
“This is a watershed moment in our ability to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Immunize children of all ages will be critical for a return to normal.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared the The Pfizer vaccine is safe and offers strong protection for young adolescents based on tests performed on more than 2,000 volunteers aged 12 to 15 years.
WATCH LIVE at 7 p.m. ET: Join the Acting FDA Commissioner @DrWoodcockFDA and @FDACBER Director Dr Peter Marks as they discuss Pfizer-BioNTech # COVID-19[FEMININE vaccin à utiliser chez les adolescents de 12 à 15 ans. https://t.co/PDF95M3LX7
– FDA américaine (@US_FDA) 10 mai 2021
L’étude n’a trouvé aucun cas de COVID-19 parmi les adolescents entièrement vaccinés contre 18 parmi les enfants ayant reçu des injections factices. Plus intrigant, les chercheurs ont découvert que les enfants développaient des niveaux plus élevés d’anticorps anti-virus que les études précédentes mesurées chez de jeunes adultes.
Les adolescents plus jeunes ont reçu la même dose de vaccin que les adultes et ont eu les mêmes effets secondaires, principalement des bras endoloris et une fièvre de type grippal, des frissons ou des courbatures qui signalent un système immunitaire revigoré, en particulier après la deuxième dose.
Les tests de Pfizer chez les adolescents «répondaient à nos normes rigoureuses», a déclaré le Dr Peter Marks, directeur des vaccins de la FDA.
«Avoir un vaccin autorisé pour une population plus jeune est une étape cruciale pour continuer à réduire l’immense fardeau de santé publique causé par la pandémie de COVID-19», a déclaré Marks.
Pfizer et son partenaire allemand BioNTech ont récemment demandé une autorisation similaire dans l’Union européenne, avec d’autres pays à suivre.
Les dernières nouvelles sont les bienvenues pour les familles américaines qui ont du mal à décider quelles activités peuvent reprendre sans danger lorsque les plus jeunes membres de la famille ne sont pas vaccinés.
“I can’t feel totally comfortable because my boys aren’t vaccinated,” said Carrie Vittitoe, a substitute teacher and freelance writer in Louisville, Kentucky, who is fully vaccinated, as are her husband and daughter from 17 years.
The FDA ruling means her 13-year-old son may soon be eligible, leaving only his 11-year-old son who would not be vaccinated.
Pfizer is not the only company seeking to lower the age limit for its vaccine.
Moderna Inc recently stated that preliminary results from a study in 12-17 year olds show strong protection and no serious side effects. Another American company, Novavax, has a COVID-19 vaccine at an advanced stage of development and has just started a study in young people aged 12 to 17 as well.
The next step is to test whether the vaccine is effective for even younger children. Pfizer and Modern began American studies in children aged six months to 11 years.
These studies explore whether babies, preschoolers and elementary school-aged children will need different doses than adolescents and adults. Pfizer expects its first results after September.
Outside the United States, AstraZeneca is studying its vaccine in children aged 6 to 17 in the UK. And in China, Sinovac recently announced that it has submitted preliminary data to Chinese regulators showing that its vaccine is safe for children as young as three.