The Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in 12 to 15 year olds, the companies announced today in a press release. None of the children who received the vaccine in a clinical trial developed COVID-19, and they all developed strong antibody responses. There were no serious side effects.
The study included 2,260 participants. About half received the vaccine with two doses and the other half received placebo injections. 18 cases of COVID-19 were found in the placebo group and none in the vaccine group.
Based on the study, the vaccine was 100 percent effective in this age group. However, the study was small, so it’s hard to say if that number holds up in a larger group. “But of course it looks good for the vaccine if there were zero Covid cases among the vaccinated people,” virologist Angela Rasmussen told The New York Times
The 12- to 15-year-olds also had higher levels of antibodies one month after the second dose of the vaccine than people between 16 and 25 years old, the company said.
Currently, the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is approved for people 16 and older. The companies said they plan to ask the Food and Drug Administration to extend the authorization to allow the shots to be used for 12 to 15-year-olds as well. Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s CEO, said in a press release that the company hopes this age group can be vaccinated before the next school year.
Countries will have to vaccinate children and adolescents in sequence to achieve herd immunity to protect communities from COVID-19. Although children rarely become seriously ill with the disease, they can still get sick and sometimes develop long-lasting symptoms. They can also contract and spread the virus.
Pfizer and BioNTech are also conducting a clinical trial to test the vaccine in children between six months and 11 years old. Moderna is testing its COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents between 12 and 17 years old and also in children between six months and 11 years old. That vaccine is currently approved for people 18 and older. Johnson & Johnson, which also has a vaccine approved for people 18 and older, has plans to test its one-time immunization in younger people, from infants to 18 year olds
About 96 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.