16+ to receive Pfizer vaccine, but not recommended for all teens

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee parents looking to protect their teens 16 and older from Covid-19 will get the chance no later than April 5th. But it’s important to note, there’s only one vaccine approved for youth.

“That doesn’t include the Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Those that are under 18 would still be receiving the Pfizer vaccine,” said the Director of Vanderbilt’s Vaccine Research Program, Dr. Buddy Creech.

In early trials, Pfizer was the only manufacturer to enroll minors – proving the dosage was safe and effective for teens 16 and older. Creech explained, when the Food and Drug Administration reviewed Pfizer’s findings, the first Covid vaccine candidate to market, the FDA focused on youth data.

“There was also considerable discussion about whether or not those 16 and 17-year-olds should be included in that emergency use. The reason why they decided that it was ok, is that there were several thousand children that were including in that age group,” said Creech.

That allowed researches to prove protection through data. “We were able to look at the daily side effect profiles,” Creech explained, “[And] the immune response over time to prove that it looks exactly like adults do.”

While the majority of eligible teens are encouraged to vaccinate, others with severe health conditions or allergies should seek further guidance from their personal doctor.

Creech said, “We still don’t know how to best use this vaccine in certain small populations of individual,” for example, “Children who have received a bone marrow transplant, children who are on very substantial immune suppressant medicines.”

Currently, several manufactures have studies underway to determine safety for children as young as 6 months.

“We don’t take it for granted that children are going to respond that same way adults do, rather, we test that rigorously so that we can say it with confidence,” said Dr. Creech.

Results from the 12 and older trials are expected as early as a few weeks. If approved, that age group may be eligible for vaccine prior to the new school year.

Dr. Creech explained pediatric vaccine studies are slated to begin very soon at Vanderbilt. They’ve already seen what he calls “a remarkable response” from Tennesseans ready to join.

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