On May 10, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration permits the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in kids ages 12 through 15. The U.S. agency granting use of the shot in adolescents will accelerate the nation’s efforts to drive down infections, public health officials and infectious disease experts say.
“The FDA’s expansion of the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age is a significant step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.
“Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic. Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”
From March 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021, approximately 1.5 million COVID-19 cases in individuals 11 to 17 years of age have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Children and adolescents generally have a milder COVID-19 disease course as compared to adults. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is administered as a series of two doses, three weeks apart, the same dosage and dosing regimen for 16 years of age and older.
The FDA has determined that Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has met the statutory criteria to amend the EUA, and that the known and potential benefits of this vaccine in individuals 12 years of age and older outweigh the known and potential risks, supporting the vaccine’s use in this population.
“Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
“With science guiding our evaluation and decision-making process, the FDA can assure the public and medical community that the available data meet our rigorous standards to support the emergency use of this vaccine in the adolescent population 12 years of age and older.”
In late March, Pfizer and BioNTech started a clinical trial testing their vaccine in healthy 6-month to 11-year-old children. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccines are authorized for people 18 and older, are also testing their shots in younger age groups.