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Pfizer plans to vaccinate some children in the US by start of next school year

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
IRELAND - 2021/02/07: In this photo illustration a silhouette of a man holding a medical syringe and a vial seen displayed in front of the Pfizer logo on a screen. (Photo Illustration by Cezary Kowalski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Younger teenagers in the US could start being given the Pfizer COVID vaccine from the start of the next school year. (Getty)

Younger teenagers in the US could start receiving the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine from the start of the next school year, following results of a study.

Researchers examined the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in a trial of 2,260 teenagers in the US, and found that it is “100% effective and well tolerated” among children aged 12 to 15.

Albert Bourla, chief executive of Pfizer, has now confirmed that the company plans to seek emergency authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration “with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year”.

Half of those who took part in the trial were given the Pfizer jab and the other half were given a placebo drug.

FRISCO, Feb. 19, 2021 -- Photo taken on Feb. 19, 2021 shows a closed COVID-19 vaccine center in Frisco, Texas, the United States.
  U.S. COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been hindered by power outages amid the ongoing winter storms in much of the country, with nearly all states experiencing shipment delays. (Photo by Dan Tian/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Dan Tian via Getty Images)
A COVID vaccine centre in Frisco, Texas. (Getty)

There were no COVID cases seen in the group who received the vaccine and 18 infections among those who did not.

Ugur Sahin, chief executive and co-founder of BioNTech, said people are “longing for a normal life” and that “this is especially true for our children”.

Watch: Pfizer COVID vaccine reduces asymptomatic spread

He added: “The initial results we have seen in the adolescent studies suggest that children are particularly well protected by vaccination, which is very encouraging given the trends we have seen in recent weeks regarding the spread of the B.1.1.7 UK variant.

“It is very important to enable them to get back to everyday school life and to meet friends and family while protecting them and their loved ones.”

Pfizer said the jab “demonstrated 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses exceeding those reported in trial of vaccinated 16- to 25-year-old participants in an earlier analysis”.

Meanwhile, the companies also announced they have dosed the first children in a trial assessing the safety and effectiveness of the jab in youngsters aged six months to 11 years.

The news comes after figures showed a slight rise in cases among youngsters after schools reopened in England earlier this month.

In its latest weekly surveillance report, published last week, Public Health England said the rate for 10- to 19-year-olds stood at 100.7 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to 21 March.

This was the highest rate across all age groups and was up week-on-week from 79.7.

Rear view of school children sitting at the desk in classroom on the lesson, raising hands.
Figures show a slight rise in COVID cases among youngsters after schools reopened in England earlier this month. (Getty/stock photo)

Among five- to nine-year-olds, the case rate rose from 39.9 to 63.5 per 100,000. But for children aged four and under, the rate had fallen from 34.9 to 32.4.

Currently, only children at very high risk of severe infection are offered a jab.

Oxford University is carrying out a clinical trial on children aged six to 17 to test the safety and efficacy of its vaccine in younger age groups, with initial results expected in the summer.

But professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said on Wednesday that no final decisions have been made about vaccinating youngsters.

Yahoo News UK has contacted the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

Watch: Do coronavirus vaccines affect fertility?