ROCHESTER, Minn. - Pfizer announced last week its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12.
Pfizer conducted a vaccine trial for kids ages 12 to 15 in late January, which was a little ahead of schedule. More than 2,000 kids participated in the trial. Half received the Pfizer vaccine and the other half received a placebo. Pfizer reports its vaccine is 100% effective in children. Dr. Melanie swift at Mayo Clinic explained it hasn't quite been long enough after they're fully vaccinated to know for sure if it's 100% effective, but early results are promising.
Medical experts found the kids who received the Pfizer vaccine had similar side effects to adults. It's also been reported the kids have higher levels of antibodies compared to young adults. Doctors are now battling emerging variants. "Children and young adults, these adolescents, are more susceptible to severe disease from some of the variants," Dr. Swift explained. "So particularly the South African variant was picked up and noticed to be really more severe in younger people who had not been so clinically effected by the original strain of COVID."
Dr. Swift said this is a huge step for students being able to go back to school in the fall and for youth sports. She explained vaccine hesitancy is starting to improve overall, but the next challenge will be parental vaccine hesitancy and reservations. "We need to be ahead of that. We need to start having these conversations now. Get parents really confident in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, which means letting them right now start getting a lot of information," she said. "Get questions answered, talk to your doctor, talk to your provider, read the information from reputable websites." Some employers are already requiring staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine and Dr. Swift said she wouldn't be surprised if schools require students to have it in the future.
Doctors anticipate Pfizer will file for emergency use authorization for 12 to 15 year olds in the next couple weeks. Johnson and Johnson started vaccine trials in ages 6 to 11 and Moderna is also starting pediatric trials in children as young as 6 months old.