June 08, 2021 News

COVID-19 Vaccine Cleared for Children 12 to 15

Children as young as 12 can now get a COVID-19 vaccine.

On May 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized an expanded use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to include children 12 and up. Previously, the vaccine had been cleared for emergency use only in people 16 and up.

Safe and effective in younger teens

Before deciding to expand Pfizer’s emergency use authorization, the FDA reviewed evidence from ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials in adolescents.

Safety data came from a trial of 2,260 children ages 12 through 15. Half of them received the vaccine. Most were then followed for two or more months after their second dose.

To see how well the vaccine worked, the FDA looked at immune responses in the children who received the vaccine. They also watched for COVID-19 cases among all children in the study.

Among the key findings:

Side effects were mild. The most common side effects from the vaccine were like those seen in older kids and adults. And they went away after a few days. They included:

  • A sore arm where the shot was given
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Joint pain

The vaccine worked. It causes an immune response that was at least as good as the immunity seen in people ages 16 to 25. What’s more, it was 100% effective at preventing COVID-19.

Pediatricians weigh in

In a statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics encouraged parents to consider vaccinating their eligible children. While most children infected with COVID-19 experience no or mild symptoms, they are at-risk of spreading the disease to adults and those who are immune compromised.

An upside of having a vaccine for younger teens?

Being protected may help them start to enjoy activities again that are important for their health and development, the AAP also suggested.

Getting the vaccine for your child

Your child’s health care provider can help answer questions about the vaccine.

You can check with your local health department to find out how to make a vaccine appointment.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about the vaccine:

  • The Pfizer vaccine is given in two doses, three weeks apart. This is the same as for people 16 and up.
  • Children should not get the vaccine if they are allergic to any of its ingredients.
  • Children should not get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other shots. They should wait at least 14 days before getting any other immunization, such as a flu shot and back-to-school vaccines. And if they have recently received any other vaccine, they should wait at least 14 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. So if your child will need any other shots, you’ll want to plan them carefully. This will help ensure that they do not conflict with COVID-19 shots.

Additional resources for COVID-19

Anthony J. Marinello MD PhD
About the Author

Anthony Marinello, MD, PhD, joined CDPHP in 2018 and serves as Executive Vice President, Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer. Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Marinello spent more than 30 years practicing medicine, most recently at CapitalCare Family Practice in Clifton Park, NY.

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