The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to children as young as 12 Monday, the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive the green light.
The FDA had previously approved both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on children ages 16 and up, but Pfizer is the first vaccine now available to all teenagers. A CDC panel will meet Wednesday to determine how the vaccine should be administered to young children, and the vaccine will be fully cleared for use following CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s approval.
Severe cases of COVID-19 are extremely rare among children, but while they have largely been spared direct danger from the pandemic, their schooling and often social lives have ground to a halt nevertheless. President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to prioritize school reopenings given science showing that in-person learning poses a low risk of spread, but the progress has been slow. (RELATED: Parents’ Lawyers Warn Teachers’ Union That Legal Action Will Follow If They Participate In Another ‘Union-Organized Sick-Out’)
Biden said on the campaign trail that he wanted more than half of schools to be in-person five days a week within his first 100 days in office. Once in office, however, that goal began to fluctuate, with administration officials saying that the goal applied only to K-8 schools. White House press secretary Jen Psaki also suggested that the administration would consider a school “open” if it was in-person only one day per week, an idea Biden later rejected.
The FDA has yet to announce approvals for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for this young age group. The FDA and CDC only recently lifted a pause on the J&J vaccine following reports of extremely rare blood clots in less than 20 people out of 8 million who received the vaccine.
The J&J vaccine returned to use after its two-week pause in April with the addition of a warning label.
This is the warning that could appear on the EUA fact sheet given to patients getting the J&J vaccine, if it is allowed to resume. pic.twitter.com/H1k8XJ79sY
— Brandon Richard (@BrandonLRichard) April 23, 2021