The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup have recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15. This comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include this age group on Monday. Previously the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for those ages 16 and older.
The State of Nevada is working with immunizing providers and will begin offering the vaccine to this age group immediately.
“As a parent and doctor, the news is very exciting,” said Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, Saint Mary’s Urgent Care Medical Director. “This gives the U.S. another resource in fighting COVID-19. And it’s reassuring to know that children will have another level of protection during summer activities and the upcoming school year.”
In Monday’s press release announcing the amendment of the Emergency Use Authorization to include this age group, the FDA noted that, "Approximately 1.5 million COVID-19 cases in individuals 11 to 17 years of age have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021.
This highly safe and effective vaccine not only brings life-saving protection to those who are vaccinated, but it also protects others — some who can’t get vaccines because they have weakened or failing immune systems — against COVID-19.
“Kids, especially adolescents and teens, have more social contact and risk of spreading the virus making it especially important to get them vaccinated,” said Karissa Loper, Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Child, Family, and Community Wellness. “We’re pleased that the CDC, with consideration from the American Academy of Pediatricians has given health care providers the go-ahead to administer COVID-19 vaccines at the same time as other teen vaccines, as it makes it easier for them to catch up on all of their recommended vaccines.”
The CDC had previously recommended waiting 14 days between getting a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines out of an abundance of caution with limited data. However, substantial data have now been collected regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by FDA for use under EUA. Further, extensive experience with non-COVID-19 vaccines has demonstrated the safety and efficacy profiles are similar when vaccines are administered together compared to being administered alone.
Ms. Loper added that parents should reach out to their pediatricians or family doctors with questions and to determine how best to schedule their children’s vaccines.
To study the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine’s safety and efficacy in this age group, scientists performed a Phase 3 clinical trial enrolling 2,260 adolescents 12 to 15 years of age in the United States. In the trial, 18 cases of COVID-19 occurred in the placebo group, while none occurred in the group that received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This means in the clinical trial, the vaccine was 100% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness in this age group. Pfizer has reported that side effects from the vaccines were consistent with those seen in study participants ages 16 to 25, including pain or swelling/redness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever — all of which typically resolved within 24-48 hours.
Parents can find vaccine appointments or locate community sites vaccinating children 12 years and older and learn more about COVID-19 vaccines at NVCOVIDFighter.org or by calling 1-800-401-0946.