ST PAUL, Minn. — With more than one-third of the American population fully vaccinated, health officials are hoping to reach more people — including those under the age of 16.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to authorize emergency use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, potentially this week.
“As a pediatrician and as a mother, the prospect of being able to vaccinate our children, as soon as potentially this week or next, on the heels of a pending FDA announcement, is really, really exciting,” says Dr. Madeleine Gagnon, Associate Medical Director of Pediatrics with Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
Dr. Gagnon says while children who contract COVID-19 have mild symptoms, there’s still a risk.
“Some, unfortunately, do get serious illness or serious downstream complications from the virus, and on a rare occasion some children have lost their life,” she says.
The FDA granted emergency use authorization to people ages 16 and older late last year. A recent preliminary Pfizer study of 2,260 volunteers ages 12 to 15, found no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated teens.
“When you look at the numbers of those after they get vaccinated — who get hospitalized or pass from COVID-19 — it is a very small number,” she says.
As Pfizer officials say they expect to submit for FDA emergency use authorization to vaccinate children ages 2 to 11 years old in September, Dr. Gagnon — a mother of 7-year old twins — is encouraging others to get their children vaccinated when the time comes.
“I would take on those same chances for my own family, especially my own children,” she says.
A federal vaccine advisory committee is scheduled to meet this week to discuss whether to recommend Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds.