A handful of states have jumped ahead of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee to start offering Pfizer-BioNTech’s infectious-disease infectious-disease to teens ages 12 to 15. Delaware, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arkansas reportedly began offering the shots as soon as the FDA expanded the emergency use authorization.
A spokeswoman for Georgia’s public health agency told Reuters that shots were offered right away in part to avoid the risk of turning a young person away and then them not returning. A 12-year-old in Atlanta, Jane Ellen Norma, got her first dose Tuesday at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium after her mother booked appointments immediately after the FDA’s decision on Monday.
“Under all relevant legal authority, once the FDA gives approval, a prescriber is permitted to prescribe the vaccine,” Kelly Cofrancisco, a spokesperson for Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County, where shots were offered for residents 12 and up beginning Tuesday, told the Associated Press.
Other states have begun preparing for the next phase of vaccine rollout in planning clinics at schools and on weekends so teens can find convenient options, but are awaiting the final word from the CDC before administering the shots.
The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP) is meeting Wednesday to discuss the safety of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in teens, and vote on recommendations regarding administration. The vote will then go before CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky for final approval.
Walensky, who previously revealed that her own children, the youngest of which is 16, have been vaccinated, said she would encourage all parents to get their age-eligible teens vaccinated, and for kids to talk with their parents about the shot.
Many parents and young teens see the shots as a way to get “a little bit more freedom,” Norman told the Associated Press. Others are hoping for vaccines to reach children before the beginning of summer camps.
“It’s about getting back to normal,” Dr. Ryan McDonough, who has been overseeing Children’s Mercy Hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic since last month. “It is about getting their kid in school five days a week. It is about going to see grandma and grandpa. It is about getting back to sports. It is all about normalcy, and people just want to get back to pre-pandemic life.”