May 17, 2022

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to adolescents as young as 12 years old. President Joe Biden called it a promising development. The Immunization Practices Advisory Committee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet Wednesday now that the EUA has been expanded and is expected to vote on recommending the vaccine for the extended age group.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walenksy will then vote if she will give her final approval before the states can go ahead with the vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds. The agency is also having a meeting next month with the vaccine advisors to discuss the authorization for vaccination of children below 12.

Across the U.S., pediatricians and pharmacies are getting ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds. Experts caution that they may still have serious long-term effects, although younger people may not be at high risk of dying from COVID.

On the day the CDC gave that authorization, Walgreens corporate spokesperson Erin Loverher said that Walgreens pharmacies would start administering it. Walgreens has been offering same-day vaccine scheduling.

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Dr. Christoph Diasio, a pediatrician at Sandhills Pediatrics in Southern Pines, North Carolina, said they are prepared to start vaccinating as soon as possible with a delivery of 1,000 Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses which arrived early Monday morning.

Despite the optimism by many experts about the expansion of vacations, pediatricians are concerned about the challenge of balancing scheduling COVID-19 shots with getting children up to date on their childhood vaccines. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends waiting two weeks after getting the COVID-19 vaccine before getting other immunizations.

The expanded authorization to adolescents aged 12 to 15 reaches COVID-19 vaccination to another 5% of the U.S. population, equivalent to nearly 17 million people. Overall, the expanded authorization resulted in 85% of the U.S. population being eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.