The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorize use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in kids 12 to 15 years old as soon as next week, according to federal officials via the New York Times. If permission is granted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory panel will likely meet the following day to review the data and issue its recommendations.
Local officials in Los Angeles said Monday that they are getting ready to act once approval is issued.
“We are working with people across the county so that as soon as we can use that vaccine — the Pfizer vaccine — on 12- to 15-year-olds, we’re ready,” said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
“The FDA could approve that any day now,” she continued. “We’re making plans…We’re working with our staff to make sure they’re ready to administer vaccines. We’re working with the state on consent forms. We already have the draft of the consent forms. So we’re ready.”
In April, as more L.A. County schools reopened, there has been a slight rise in youth hospitalizations from a recent low point. “Protecting children from infection and complications,” said Ferrer, “remains a high priority. She identified that as “One reason we’re expanding our sites at the schools so that we’re ready.”
According to L.A. County figures, there are a total of 56 schools serving as vaccination sites where teens and their families can go and get vaccinated. Being able to vaccinate students, their families and community residents all together at schools is an important strategy for reaching teens, said Ferrer. Local officials are also working with medical providers.
To prepare for increased eligibility in teens, public health officials are urging providers “to consider expanding the range of vaccines they are delivering to include Pfizer.” That adjustment would not only mean greater availability to this age group, but less waste because “the county is able to break up dose allocations of Pfizer into smaller numbers to help support any vaccine provider that is able to make this vaccine available to patients without the concern for waste.”
In early April, Pfizer submitted a request to the FDa to approve its vaccine for ages 12-15.
According to NYT:
Pfizer reported several weeks ago that none of the adolescents in the clinical trial who received the vaccine developed symptomatic infections, a sign of significant protection. The company announced in late March that volunteers produced strong antibody responses and experienced about the same side effects seen in people ages 16 to 25 years.
That data may be key. As recent battles over required vaccinations for school-age children have shown, even parents comfortable with getting vaccinations themselves can be much more hesitant to have their children get such shots.