(KSNT) – An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Wednesday to recommend Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in kids ages 12 to 15. The vote was 14-0, with one abstention.
The vote comes two days after the Food and Drug Administration amended its emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine to include this age group, and is considered one of the final steps needed before shots start going into arms.
It is expected that CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, will accept the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, recommendation quickly — clearing the way for the shots’ use in the 17 million young people in this age group.
A handful of cities around the country started offering shots to children ages 12 to 15 less than a day after the Food and Drug Administration gave the vaccine emergency use authorization for that age group. Most communities were waiting for a federal advisory committee that meets Wednesday to sign off on the move, while anxious families called clinics and pharmacies to ask about the soonest appointments.
Most COVID-19 vaccines worldwide have been authorized for adults. Pfizer’s vaccine is being used in multiple countries for teens as young as 16, and Canada recently became the first to expand use to children 12 and up. Parents, school administrators, and public health officials elsewhere have eagerly awaited approval for the shot to be made available to more young people.
In the Kansas City area, Children’s Mercy Hospital has run vaccine clinics for 16- to 21-year-olds since last month and plans to expand them to cover the younger ages soon. Dr. Ryan McDonough, a pediatrician who oversees the COVID-19 vaccine clinics, said he has been deluged with calls from patients and texts from friends and relatives wanting to sign up their kids.
“It is about getting back to normal,” McDonough said. “It is about getting their kid in school five days a week. It is about going to see grandma and grandpa. It is about getting back to sports. It is all about normalcy, and people just want to get back to pre-pandemic life.”