SAN ANTONIO – A clinical trial of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on children as young as 12 years of age proves it’s 100% effective at preventing the virus, the company announced Wednesday.
The results of the study could pave the way to possibly innoculate this age group before children head back to school in the fall.
Medical experts said the implications are far reaching not only children, but also for older, at-risk adults.
“They’re going to be able to apply to the FDA to just basically add an amendment to their existing authorization. So that means that for kids, 12 to 15, hopefully they’ll be able to start getting vaccinated by summer, late summer,” said Dr. Jason Bolling, a University Health epidemiologist.
If that happens, children could potentially be immune by the start of the fall semester.
The emergency use authorization is considered just a formality. Bolling said getting more children vaccinated around the country will follow, and that will be even better news for those at risk.
“We know that vaccinating older people is again important for preventing hospitalizations and deaths, but when you look at models of pandemic flu and other illnesses, when you have a limited amount of vaccine, if you can vaccinate younger people, you can prevent more transmissions,” he said.
In other words, since kids tend to be spreaders, getting them vaccinated is crucial in curbing the virus and creating herd immunity. For even younger children, the clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine are expected to be complete by the end of the year.
“So that maybe early 2022, we’re looking at kids less than 12 years of age, getting vaccinated,” Bolling said.
Adding more of the population to the demand for vaccinations might seem to have the potential to create a shortage, but Bolling said production planning was already expanding to accommodate more people. He said unless there’s a supply chain shortage or production disruption, everyone should be able to get the shot.