By Michael Erman and Manojna Maddipatla
(Reuters) – The United States should start vaccinating teens with Pfizer / BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, advisers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday, a vote expected by states willing to start inoculating the youngest.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 on Monday, offering relief to parents anxious about their children returning to schools and summer camps. Some states, including Georgia, Delaware and Arkansas, began offering the vaccine to younger teens on Tuesday.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) provides recommendations to the CDC that many states will consider when beginning to administer the two-shot vaccine to teens this week.
A task force concluded that the benefits of the vaccine clearly outweigh the risks and recommended the vaccine.
No one in the age group that received the vaccine in a clinical study contracted COVID-19, and there were no cases of Bell’s palsy or severe allergic reactions, according to the presentation of the task force, which confirmed previous data.
About a third of all Americans have been fully vaccinated according to CDC data. But the pace of vaccination has slowed in recent weeks.
The launch 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 path to normalcy for Americans.
“I think we should be in full school, full school in person, in the fall,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday at a CNBC health summit.
Health officials have deemed children to be at lower risk for severe COVID-19, but can still transmit the virus. More than 1.5 million cases have been reported among youth ages 12 to 17, and as more adults are vaccinated, adolescents account for a greater proportion of all cases.
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Adjusted for underreporting, the task force estimated 22.2 million COVID-19 infections in the United States in people ages 5 to 17.
Pfizer is conducting a trial to test the vaccine in children as young as 6 months old, and has said it expects data on its use in children ages 2 to 11 in September.
GRAPH: COVID-19 Vaccination Tracking by Reuters https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-rollout-and-access/
GRAPH: Daily average of vaccinations in the US, Brazil and India https://tmsnrt.rs/3tlH6Gq
(Reported by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Edited in Spanish by Janisse Huambachano)