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FDA approves Pfizer COVID shots for 12-15 year olds

Preteens and teens can now get a COVID vaccine after FDA approves emergency use for Pfizer. (Shutterstock)

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for emergency use in children between the ages of 12 and15, the Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday.

This is the first COVID vaccine to be allowed for children since Pfizer was originally only approved for those 16 and older. The decision will allow middle school students to get vaccinated before school returns in the summer if parents choose to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on Wednesday to vote on the change in practice.

When will kids in that age group be able to get the vaccine?

Kids should be able to start the immunization process as soon as the CDC approves the change. According to the Biden administration, 15,000 locations across the country are prepared to distribute the vaccine to kids.

Children make up about 20% of the U.S. population. Kids between the ages of 11 and 17 have made up about 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, though they tend to have milder symptoms on average. During vaccine trials, 2,260 participants were between 12 and 15, which showed the vaccine was effective in a younger age bracket.

What should you expect when your child gets vaccinated?

If children have a reaction to the Pfizer vaccine, it is likely to be similar to that of adults: pain, fever, chills and fatigue. The second dose tends to have worse side effects than the first.

"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. "With science guiding our evaluation and decision-making process, the FDA can assure the public and medical community that the available data meet our rigorous standards to support the emergency use of this vaccine in the adolescent population 12 years of age and older."


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