Pfizer aims to expand vaccine efforts to include kids as young as 12

Istock Pfizervaccine 041221

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — With a little over one in five Americans completely vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, efforts are underway to ensure every U.S. citizen is vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

Pfizer, the maker behind one of three vaccines being distributed around the country, is asking federal regulators to authorize its vaccine to be used on children as young as 12.  Pfizer says recent clinical trials find that children in that age group had no serious side effects to the virus; ruling it safe and effective.

The push comes as new data out of Michigan and Minnesota, two states struggling with a surge of COVID-19 cases, finds that youth sports are driving up numbers of newly infected patients.

Despite children having a less likely chance of developing more serious side effects of COVID-19, they are still capable of transmitting the virus to unvaccinated adults.

In light of the new findings, Michigan has called for a two-week suspension of high school and youth sports to help contain the surge.  Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, also is pushing residents to stop indoor dining until the rate of cases can be controlled.

To date, the U.S. is reporting roughly 65,000 new cases each day, with Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, attributing the rise to the COVID-19 variant discovered in the United Kingdom, which is more transmissible. 

“What is happening in Michigan and Minnesota is similar to what we are seeing across the country – increasing reports of cases associated with youth sports,” she said Friday during a White House press briefing.

In light of this, vaccine makers are looking at expanding distribution to include young Americans, which is considered a critical step in curbing community spread.

Currently, Pfizer is the only vaccine maker authorized for 16 and 17-year-olds.  Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna are still undergoing clinical studies to see how younger teens react to their vaccine.

Pfizer claims its vaccine usage on kids as young as 12 is “100 percent efficacy and robust antibody response after vaccination with the COVID-19 Vaccine.”  The data now heads to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for review.

To date, the pandemic has killed over 562,000 Americans, reports Johns Hopkins University — currently, over 31 million Americans have contracted the virus. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.