FDA approves COVID vaccine for children as young as 12

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Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is now available to children as young as 12

Elijah Calip '22, Health Editor

     As the 2020-2021 school year reaches to a close, and while students study hard for their final exams at the doors of summer vacation, society is one step closer to returning back to normalcy. 

     With vaccines and vaccination centers becoming more accessible to people across the United States and around the world, it seems certain that the end to the pandemic is near, especially with the addition of a new age group authorized to take the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

     On May 12, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director, Rochelle Walensky, made the following statement, “Today, I adopted CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation that endorsed the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and its use in 12- through 15-year-old adolescents. CDC now recommends that this vaccine be used among this population, and providers may begin vaccinating them right away.” 

     The statement was made two days after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine to the mentioned age group. 

I think the inclusion of children, between the ages of 12 and 15, being authorized to take the vaccine was incredibly beneficial for our communities and especially the Riordan community…I have high hopes for the future and we will soon be able to have classes in person.”

— Abram Ali '23

     According to Pfizer, the mRNA in the vaccine gives instructions to the cells to create the spike protein that initiates infection, originating on the surface of the novel coronavirus. This allows for an immune response in which antibodies specific to the protein are created. The vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95.3 percent as of April 1. 

     Action to vaccinate this new age group is necessary as currently, around 1.5 million children between the ages of 11 and 17 have contracted Covid-19. Overall, vaccination is important for a society to gain herd immunity. 

     Herd Immunity, defined by the Mayo Clinic, happens when a large part of the community is immune to certain illnesses or diseases, making it difficult for it to spread to others. This gives protection to those who may be of high risk especially the young and the elderly. 

     Colleen O’Rourke, a Biology teacher at Riordan, said, “While kids don’t seem to be at high risk of severe effects from COVID, there definitely is some risk, especially of the unknown long-term effects. In addition, new mutated variants, which have [a]higher risk of transmission and severe side effects, are currently spreading worldwide, and the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been shown to still be strongly effective against them.”

     While the Riordan community prepares to enjoy the warmth of summer vacation, many will continue to prioritize their health and that of others.