In what President Joe Biden called a “promising development,” the FDA expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) Monday for the Pfizer vaccine to be given to adolescents as young as 12. The agency also set a meeting for next month for vaccine advisors to discuss authorizing vaccines for younger children.
Vaccinating younger teens not only means a greater shot at ending the pandemic long term, but also means they can safely get back to the birthday parties and sleepovers they had in pre-pandemic life, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen said.
More than 34% of the US population is fully vaccinated, CDC data shows. Dr. Anthony Fauci has estimated about 70-85% of people need to be immune for the country to reach a “total blanket of protection,” he told CNN late last month.
Now that the EUA has been expanded, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Wednesday and is expected to vote on recommending the vaccine for the expanded age group.
Once CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walenksy gives her final approval, states have the go ahead to administer the vaccine to 12 to 15- year-olds.
The morning the CDC gives that authorization, Walgreens pharmacies will begin administering it, according to Erin Loverher, Walgreens corporate spokesperson. The company said it is offering same-day vaccine scheduling up to 30 minutes before the appointment.
With a delivery of 1,000 Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine doses arriving at Sandhills Pediatrics in Southern Pines, North Carolina early Monday morning, Dr. Christoph Diasio, a pediatrician at the office, is preparing to start vaccinating as soon as possible.
“We’ve been playing defense for 15 months,” said Diasio. “It’s time to go on offense and end this thing.”
Parents urged to catch kids up on other shots
Although many experts are optimistic about the expansion of vacations, pediatricians are concerned about the challenge of balancing scheduling Covid-19 shots with getting children up to date on their childhood vaccines.
“We have seen throughout the pandemic that there has been a decline in routine immunizations, and that does concern me greatly as a pediatrician because I know that many children have missed other important vaccines for diseases like measles or whooping cough — which, like Covid-19, can be deadly,” Dr. Lisa Costello, a pediatrician at WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on State Government Affairs, told CNN on Friday.
One study published in May 2020 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of childhood vaccines administered in Michigan dropped by as much as 22%.
Scheduling those vaccines could be a problem, because it’s recommended to wait two weeks after getting the Covid-19 vaccine before getting other immunizations, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
“So, it’s an interesting dilemma of how states and…