The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Monday that, after a month-long review, it would authorize use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in adolescents aged 12 to 15 years old, making millions of people eligible for a vaccine. This decision will help ensure that middle and high school students can return to fully in-person learning this fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) vaccine advisory committee met Wednesday and voted to approve the shot for adolescents.

The FDA reviewed research from a clinical trial conducted by Pfizer and BioNTech in March, which found that the vaccine was effective among adolescents and young recipients produced strong antibodies with minimal side effects. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are also in the midst of testing their shots in children.

FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock commented on the recent move. “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,” said Woodcock. “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.”


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Pfizer will likely request emergency use authorization to administer the vaccine to children ages 2 to 11 in September.

While children appear to be less likely to spread the virus than adults, experts still believe it is advisable for this population to get vaccinated, as transmission in children is not yet fully understood.

Even though over 260 million vaccine doses have been administered and 40% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, the enthusiasm surrounding the vaccine has died down, and there are fewer doses being administered each day.

The Biden administration is now facing the challenge of incentivizing the public to get vaccinated. And, with the recent FDA decision, the administration is tasked with convincing parents to vaccinate their children.

“This is a promising development in our fight against the virus,” said President Joe Biden Monday evening. “If you are a parent who wants to protect your child, or a teenager who is interested in getting vaccinated, today’s decision is a step closer to that goal.”

Despite Biden’s words of encouragement, recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that parents are skeptical about getting their kids vaccinated. Only around 30% of parents who have at least one child between the ages of 12 and 15 said that they’ll vaccinate their child right away. Eighteen percent said they will vaccinate their child if schools require it, and 23 percent said they do not plan on vaccinating their child.

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