In a study released on Tuesday, Pfizer claims that its coronavirus vaccine is 100 percent effective in adolescents age 12-15. The company plans to give its data to the FDA immediately, which could lead to the agency amending the company’s original emergency authorization and allow them to vaccinate younger children in time for the next school year.
Currently, all three vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — can be given to patients as young as 16.
Getting schoolchildren inoculated against Covid-19 is one of the last steps to developing herd immunity in a population. Children make up 20 percent of the U.S. population and most infectious disease experts believe that between 70-85 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner at the FDA, said he expects it will take the U.S. agency about a month to review the new data. If the FDA process goes well, the vaccine could be available for kids between 12 and 15 by the fall, he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist who has sat on several data and safety monitoring boards, called the results “wonderful news,” saying it is a “huge step forward” in protecting more people against the virus and making schools safer for kids.
The CDC says that there have been two million children who have tested positive for the coronavirus, while about 1.3% of those children with known cases have been hospitalized and 0.01% have died.
But kids can and do infect adults. And making sure that they can’t pass the disease to those close to them is critical.
Pfizer began testing its vaccine in kids as young as 12 in October. It announced last week it started a clinical trial testing its Covid-19 vaccine on healthy 6-month to 11-year old children.
Given that Covid vaccines will probably be a requirement to attend school next fall, there is going to be a fight by some parents who don’t want their children vaccinated. There was similar resistance to vaccinating against polio, measles, mumps, and other childhood diseases. We should all get more information on the efficacy of a Covid vaccine for children before anyone decides whether or not to resist.