KALAMAZOO, Mich. — As people 16 and up get ready Monday to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine, health officials are already looking at the new group: children 15 and younger.
Pfizer announced preliminary data in their vaccine study of children ages 12 to 15 shows there were no cases among the fully vaccinated adolescents.
A pediatrician with Western Michigan University Homer Stryker, M.D. School of Medicine, said he is not surprised because of the way kids' immune systems are.
"We have a very high rate of effectiveness in the older population, and we have even a higher rate at 100% in adolescents," said Dr. Hal Jenson, the dean of WMU Homer Stryker, M.D. School of Medicine.
It's the next step at fighting the pandemic, at least that's what Dr. Hal Jenson said regarding the news of the efficacy rate of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents 12 to 15.
"Extending the age group for the vaccination from 16 down to 12 years of age is a logical next step, and now Pfizer and other companies are extending below that age as well. Some of the studies are actually down as low to about six months of age," said Dr. Jenson.
Dr. Jenson said while many adolescents generally won't have the same effects as someone who is elderly fighting COVID-19, it is still important they're vaccinated.
"Vaccinating everybody will help prevent the disease in the them but will also help prevent the disease from spreading. These adolescents will not take the infection home to their parents and their grandparents, so it will help overall reduce the consequences of the pandemic," said Dr. Jenson.
As the country continues vaccination efforts, Dr. Jenson said it's an exciting time, as the country is on the verge of having the ability to quell the pandemic and get to some version of normalcy.
"I think vaccinations are the key for many of us to be able to get back to doing things that we routinely did before. Certainly schools are a part of that; getting teachers immunized and getting the children immunized is really going to help us get back to in-person learning," said Dr. Jenson.
Dr. Jenson said he fully expects that vaccine trials will show the COVID-19 vaccine to be just as effective in those younger than 12.
The next step for Pfizer is to get the FDA to grant emergency approval for use of the COVID-19 vaccine in ages 12 to 15, so they can start with vaccination efforts with that group.