Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine works very well in children ages 12 to 15, the pharmaceutical company reported on Wednesday.
In a late-stage study of more than 2,200 adolescents in the United States, not a single vaccinated person was infected with COVID-19, Pfizer said in a press release. The results suggest that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine may be even more effective in 12-15 year olds than it is in adults.
Pfizer has not yet published the trial data. The company plans to submit the results to the FDA in the coming weeks, managing director Albert Bourla said, “in the hope of starting vaccination for this age group before the start of the next school year.”
When given emergency clearance, Pfizer’s vaccine will be the first in the US to be given to children under the age of 16. Public health experts believe that vaccinating children is critical to achieving “herd immunity” – when so many people have immunity to COVID-19 that the virus is no longer able to spread effectively. President Joe Biden has called for high school-age students to fall and elementary school students to be immunized in early 2022 if trial results like that announced by Pfizer show that the vaccines are indeed safe and effective.
Pfizer said the study showed the vaccine was safe in 12-15 year olds, with side effects “generally consistent with those seen in participants aged 16-25”.
Pfizer’s vaccine was first approved in December for emergency use in people aged 16 and over. Since then, Americans have received more than 75 million doses. A clinical study last fall found it was 95% effective in reducing COVID-19 infections in adults. A recent study showed similar 90% effectiveness results in the “real world” since it was approved.
In the announcement, Pfizer also announced that vaccination has started in children ages 5-11 in a similar global study and that it will be given to a group of children ages 2-5 next week.