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US CDC panel backs Covid vaccine now cleared for adolescents

Reuters May 13 | Updated on May 13, 2021

Some states, including Georgia, Delaware and Arkansas, began offering the vaccine to younger teens on Tuesday

US states are set to begin using the vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE to inoculate younger adolescents against Covid-19 after advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backed the plan in a vote on Wednesday.

The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorised the vaccine for children aged 12 to 15, offering relief to parents eager to get their children back to schools and summer camps, and the action by the CDC group is an important, but not required, final seal of federal regulatory approval.

Some states, including Georgia, Delaware and Arkansas, began offering the vaccine to younger teens on Tuesday.

USFDA okays Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children in 12-15 age group

ACIP backs vaccine

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which provides recommendations to the CDC, voted to back the vaccine, after reviewing trial evidence that showed no one in the 12-15 age group who received the vaccine got Covid-19, and there were no cases of Bell’s Palsy or severe allergic reactions.

Moreover, the vaccine produced robust antibody responses in the age group and showed 100 per cent efficacy in the trial, with no cases of symptomatic Covid-19 among the fully vaccinated adolescents.

About a third of all Americans have been fully-vaccinated according to the CDC data. But the pace of vaccination has slowed in the recent weeks.

The rollout of a vaccine for adolescents should help further limit the spread of the virus at a time when more contagious variants are circulating, and could shorten the road to normalcy for Americans.

Sinovac claims its Covid-19 vaccine safe for children, teenagers between 3-17

“I think we should be in full school, full in-person school, in the fall,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a CNBC health summit on Tuesday.

Children have been considered by health officials as being at a lower risk for severe Covid-19, but they can still spread the virus. More than 1.5 million cases have been reported among 12-to-17-year-olds, and as more adults become vaccinated, adolescents are accounting for a higher proportion of total cases.

Adjusted for under-reporting, the working group estimated 22.2 million US Covid-19 infections in those aged 5 to 17.

Separate Pfizer trial

Pfizer is running a separate trial testing the vaccine in children as young as six months old, and has said it expects data on its use in 2- to 11-year-olds in September. The 2,260 participants in the 12-to-15 age group — half of whom were given placebo — were tested as an expansion of Pfizer’s more than 46,000-person trial.

The committee will hear from Pfizer about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy in adolescents and will consider the views of a handful of CDC officials on its implementation.

Published on May 13, 2021

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