Updated: May 05, 2021 10:59 PM
Created: May 05, 2021 10:51 PM
(ABC 6 News) - The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine could soon be ready for more teens.
A source familiar with the process said the FDA could expand emergency use for teenagers 12 and up this week. It's currently available for people 16 and older.
Health experts said it's a step in the right direction to normalcy since it's possible 85% of Americans may need to be immune to reach herd immunity, Mayo Clinic's Dr. Bob Jacobson said. Jacobson serves as medical director of the primary care immunization program in southeast Minnesota.
That means adults alone can't be the only ones vaccinated.
They're not the most likely to end up in the hospital from COVID-19 but children and teens are threatening the people who are. At least 22% of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. are in children, according to the latest report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.
"They put the adults in the household at risk for infection and they put neighbors, school teachers, and child care givers at risk as well," Jacobson said. "The masking, the social distancing, the lockdowns aren't enough to protect their children. We need the vaccine."
While the FDA hasn't made its report on Pfizer public, the drug company said the test results are promising.
"There's every reason to believe this will be an incredibly effective vaccine," Jacobson said.
Jacobson said parents and guardians are right to ask questions about its safety since other types of vaccines affect people of all ages differently. But when it comes to Pfizer, he said the science is pointing to the right direction.
"We're going to make a decision about 12- to 15 year-olds based on evidence," Jacobson said.
As for side effects in teens, Jacobson said it's likely to be the same as in young adults and there have been no signs of alarming concerns.
"For the most part, these are mild and resolve within a day or so," Jacobson said.
The FDA's likely expansion on Pfizer follows President Joe Biden's new commitment to have 70% of Americans have at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4. That's close to 100 million shots between now and then.
Thousands of pharmacies have started allowing walk-in appointments under the federal pharmacy program.
Most recently, Walmart and CVS Health announced they're offering them nationwide. That boost, alongside news of Pfizer, may be necessary because vaccine demand in the U.S. is going down.
"This will also help rural America where a trip to the doctor might be an hour or two away," Jacobson said. "The more we can put these vaccines into pharmacists' hands, the better."
Canadian health officials announced Wednesday that it's the first country to approve the Pfizer vaccine for people 12 and up. Clinical trials are still underway to determine whether it's safe and effective to vaccinate children under 12-years-old.
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