CDC director adopts committee recommendation of Pfizer vaccine for 12-15-year-olds

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee on Wednesday voted in favor of recommending that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech be given to people aged 12 to 15.

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Update 12:15 a.m. EDT May 13: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, signed off on the advisory committee’s recommendation Wednesday evening.

“Today, I adopted CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation that endorsed the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and its use in 12- through 15-year-old adolescents,” Walensky said in a statement.

Original report: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, is expected to sign off on the recommendation later Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.

The vote by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted earlier this week to expand an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to include adolescents between 12 and 15 years old.

>> Related: FDA authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine use for children age 12 to 15

The sprint to vaccinate millions of middle and high school students has already started in parts of the country, as a long line of kids rolled up their sleeves in suburban Atlanta for a first dose Wednesday. But much of the nation was awaiting recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Pfizer’s vaccine, already used for months in those 16 and older, was a good choice for 12- to 15-year-olds, too.

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, who represents the American Academy of Pediatrics on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, said that approving vaccines for 12-15-year-olds “is an important step in removing barriers for vaccinating children of all ages,” according to The New York Times.

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization to administer Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in people aged 16 and older in December 2020, making it the first vaccine against COVID-19 available in the U.S. In a clinical trial, the companies’ drug had an efficacy rate of 95%, according to the FDA.

>> Related: FDA authorizes Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

As of Wednesday, about 117.6 million people nationwide have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, amounting to about 35% of the population, according to data from the CDC. Health officials said 153.9 million people -- 46% of the population -- have gotten at least one of the available vaccine doses so far.

More than 32.8 million people across the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. The viral infection has claimed over 583,000 lives nationwide.

Globally, nearly 160 million people have tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in over 3.3 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.