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When can kids get the COVID vaccine? Key meeting set for Wednesday

COVID shots for ages 12 to 15 could begin shortly after the CDC advisory committee meets next week, if they recommend Pfizer's vaccine for use.

WASHINGTON — A federal vaccine advisory committee is scheduled to meet next Wednesday to discuss whether to recommend Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the vaccine for young adults age 12 and older by early next week. 

The FDA action would then be followed by the advisory committee's meeting, currently set for Wednesday, May 12. A draft agenda posted online says a vote would happen early Wednesday afternoon.

When could kids 12 to 15 get the COVID vaccine?

Shots could begin quickly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adopts the advisory committee’s recommendation.

The Biden administration has said around 15,000 pharmacy locations around the country will quickly be able to start administering vaccines to kids as young as 12, once it's approved by health officials. Officials are also working to get more pediatricians and family doctors to offer COVID-19 vaccines in their offices. 

Pfizer in late March released preliminary results from a vaccine study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, which showed its shot provided protection for the younger group. 

What are the COVID vaccine side effects for kids? 

The kids enrolled in the study had side effects similar to young adults, Pfizer said. The main side effects are pain, fever, chills and fatigue, particularly after the second dose. 

On Friday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced they had started the process to request full approval from the FDA for their mRNA coronavirus vaccine for adults 16 and older. 

The FDA has only given Emergency Use Authorization in December 2020 for the two-dose vaccine to be used on individuals 16 years of age and older. Since receiving the Emergency Use Authorization, more than 170 million doses of the vaccine have been delivered across the U.S.

Pfizer and BioNTech said data to support its vaccine will be submitted to the FDA on a "rolling basis" over the coming weeks. The companies requested a priority review, which asks the FDA to fast-track the application within six months instead of the usual 10 months.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

The United States has more than 32 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

As of Friday, the U.S. had more than 580,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 156 million confirmed cases with more than 3.2 million deaths.

The Associated Press and Erin McHugh contributed to this report. 

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