Now that the FDA has granted emergency use clearance for the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet later this week to recommend its use in this age group.
Parents will then be allowed to have their children vaccinated as soon as the CDC director approves this recommendation.
The decision that the two-dose vaccine is safe for teens will allow millions more Americans to get vaccinated, which is essential if the country is to achieve herd immunity.
The decision was also eagerly awaited by parents, teachers and healthcare professionals ahead of the summer vacation and the new school term which begins later this year.
“The extension by the FDA of the authorization for the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to include adolescents aged 12 to 15 is an important step in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic”, said Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the FDA.
“Today’s action allows a younger population to be protected from Covid-19, which brings us closer to a return to a sense of normalcy and the end of the pandemic.
“Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency has undertaken a rigorous and in-depth review of all available data, as we have done with all of our authorizations for emergency use of the Covid-19 vaccine.”
But the FDA says that number is still higher than the number of children who would die from the flu each year.
The Pfizer vaccine was already approved for adolescents aged 16 and over, and other vaccine makers may soon follow suit.
The FDA made its decision based on a Pfizer trial of nearly 2,300 young people between the ages of 12 and 15, with researchers finding that the age group actually had a stronger immune response than young adults.
“Having a vaccine licensed for a younger population is a crucial step in continuing to reduce the immense public health burden caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA.
“With science guiding our assessment and decision-making process, the FDA can assure the public and the medical community that the available data meets our rigorous standards to support the emergency use of this vaccine in adolescents. 12 years and over. ”