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VACCINE TEAM | Q&A on 12 to 15 year olds getting their shots

WKYT Vaccine Team Q&A
WKYT Vaccine Team Q&A(WKYT)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 5:10 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As we continue to watch vaccines roll out across Kentucky, we are here to answer your questions.

How has COVID-19 impacted the younger population?

From March 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021, approximately 1.5 million COVID-19 cases in individuals 11 to 17 years of age have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children and adolescents generally have a milder COVID-19 disease course as compared to adults.

In Kentucky, those younger than 20 years old make up approximately 15.4% of all COVID-19 cases. Only two deaths among the age group are attributed to COVID-19, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Experts believe including young Americans in vaccination efforts protects them from getting ill but also limits the spread of COVID-19.

“Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Who is now eligible for vaccination and why just the Pfizer vaccine?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s expanded emergency use authorization is specifically for the Pfizer vaccine and includes adolescents 12 through 15 years of age.

Pfizer’s vaccine is the first to complete necessary trials in the age group and to receive the FDA’s approval.

Is there anything different about the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds?

Just like with adults, the Pfizer vaccine is administered as a series of two doses and three weeks apart. The clinical trials revealed those children may safely receive the same dose as adults.

Are the vaccine side effects any different for 12 to 15 year olds?

The FDA’s review of Pfizer’s data confirmed the company’s clinical trial found the shots were safe and effective in adolescents, and the side effects were “consistent” with older age groups.

When will even younger children be able to get vaccinated?

Over the past few weeks, COVID-19 vaccine trials began for younger children.

Both Moderna and Pfizer are studying their COVID-19 vaccines on children 6 months to 11 years old. The Mayo Clinic says researchers hope to have enough data to enable kids in this age group to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by the beginning of 2022.

For the youngest children, approval may take longer because the challenge of determining their optimal dose.

“It’ll be some time before we have preliminary results from those trials. So hopefully, toward the end of this year, we might be hearing back on some of that data. And most projections say, best case scenario — maybe by early 2022 — we might be able to have a vaccine for that age group,” says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic pediatric infectious diseases specialist.

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