Pfizer seeks FDA approval to use COVID-19 vaccine on kids 12 to 15

NOW: Pfizer seeks FDA approval to use COVID-19 vaccine on kids 12 to 15

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- We are moving toward being able to vaccinate kids before they head back to school in the fall.

On Friday, Pfizer announced it filed for approval of it’s vaccine for children 12-15. It is already approved for everyone 16 and up.

The news is especially vital because in order to reach herd immunity, between 70 and 85-percent of people need to be vaccinated.

“Over the past several weeks, there has been an increase in the number of COVID positive cases, especially in the 14-17 age,” said Dr. Mike Gutzeit, a pediatrician at Children’s Wisconsin.

That rise in cases makes Friday’s announcement from Pfizer even more important. The drug manufacturer submitted a request to the FDA to use its COVID vaccine on children ages 12 to 15. According to preliminary data from Pfizer, of the 2,260 12 to 15-year-olds, there were zero cases of COVID-19 among those fully vaccinated, compared to 18 cases in the placebo group. The FDA and CDC will review that data.

“Both of those organizations have internal processes, multiple steps, checks and balances to ensure the data submitted is accurate,” Dr. Gutzeit said.

There’s no set timeline, but experts expect approval to be granted before the 2021 school year.

Still, Dr. Hahim Zaibak, CEO of Hayat Pharmacy, says he thinks there will be some hesitancy from parents.

“Just because we tend to be more protective of our children, not because scientifically it’s any different,” Dr. Zaibak said.

But Dr. Zaibak says as a pharmacist and a parent, he has full confidence in the FDA process.

“I would feel very comfortable giving it to my 13-year-old son once it’s approved,” Dr. Zaibak said.

Doctors say the side effects in 16 and 17-year-olds, who can already get the vaccine, are no different than those in adults. And they encourage kids, when eligible, to get the shot.

“As a pediatrician, I really believe the best treatment is prevention, and vaccines are one of the most effective ways to provide protection, not only for those at risk but those who are healthy, and allow them to continue to remain healthy,” said Dr. Gutzeit.

Currently, Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for kids 16 and 17. Saturday Hayat Pharmacy, located at 813 W. Layton Ave. in Milwaukee, has 1,000 doses of Pfizer they need to use. Anyone 16 and older can go, no appointment needed.

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