Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine works very well in children between the ages of 12 and 15, the pharmaceutical giant reported Wednesday.
In a late-stage study that studied more than 2,200 teenagers in the United States, no vaccinated person was infected with COVID-19, Pfizer said in a news release. The results suggest that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be even more effective in children aged 12 to 15 years than in adults.
Pfizer has not yet released the test data. The company plans to submit the findings to the FDA in the coming weeks, CEO Albert Bourla said, “with the hope of starting vaccinating this age group before the next school year begins.”
If it gets emergency clearance, Pfizer’s vaccine will be the first in the United States to be distributed to children under the age of 16. Public health experts believe vaccinating children will be crucial to gaining “herd immunity” – when so many people have immunity to COVID-19 that the virus is no longer able to spread effectively. President Joe Biden called for school-age students to be immunized by the fall in the United States and elementary school students by early 2022 if the results of studies like the one announced by Pfizer prove that vaccines are indeed safe and effective between them.
Pfizer said the study showed the vaccine is safe in children aged 12 to 15, with side effects “generally consistent with those seen in participants aged 16 to 25.”
Pfizer’s vaccine was first authorized for emergency use for people aged 16 and over in December, and more than 75 million doses have been administered to Americans since then. A clinical study last fall found it was 95% effective in reducing COVID-19 infections in adults; a recent study showed efficacy results similar to 90% in the “real world” since its authorization.
In the announcement, Pfizer also said it has started vaccinating children between the ages of 5 and 11 in a related global study and will begin giving it to a group of children between the ages of 2 and 5 next week.