By: Vanessa Hsieh
On May 12th, emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine was expanded to include children ages 12 and up by the CDC. This action is a big step towards eventual herd immunity and the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. Vaccinating these age groups will help allow schools to possibly return to full time in the fall.
Shortly before May 12th, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) held an advisory panel meeting and voted unanimously for the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children ages 12-15. Pfizer announced in late March that its clinical trials showed that the vaccine was 100% safe and effective in children ages 12-15, similar to the 95% efficacy among adult clinical trial participants. No serious side effects were reported, and none of the participants had a severe allergic reaction. The CDC, as well as President Joe Biden, recommend eligible children get the vaccine as soon as they can. Adolescents can get the vaccine at local pharmaceutical companies, such as CVS or Walgreens or at one of several state vaccination sites across Long Island. High School East has also held vaccination days which allows students, and other community members, to schedule an appointment to get the vaccine at the school on a designated day.
Despite the belief that children are not susceptible to Covid-19, there is a risk of severe illness for adolescents aged 12-17, which is why it is recommended to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect yourself and others around you. A comparison of hospitalization rates showed that more children and teens have been hospitalized for Covid-19 than for the flu in past years. In April, it was reported that 9% of cases were aged 12-17 years old, which seems small but is still significant enough to warrant the need for protection. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, is a rare but serious complication of coronavirus infection that affects multiple organs and has been seen in younger Covid-19 patients. Thus, getting the vaccine can help prevent the chances of developing long-term side effects. Experts believe that if 70% to 85% of the U.S. population were fully vaccinated, America would be able to achieve herd immunity since there would be enough defense against the virus to prevent it from spreading. Pfizer also said that they are performing active studies for vaccine safety and efficacy in children ages 6 months to 11 years old; they are predicting an authorization for this age group by the fall. These new reports have given increased hope for a return to normalcy in the very near future.
Photo courtesy of People.com.