PALO ALTO, Calif. - As vaccine eligibility expands to Californians 16 years and older by April 15, on Friday Pfizer jumpstarted the process for even younger teens to soon be eligible too, requesting emergency use authorization by the United States Food and Drug Administration to vaccinate this age group.
"I think time is money in terms of immunizing as many members of the population as we can," Dr. Peter Chin Hong, infectious disease specialist, and professor of medicine at UCSF, said.
After reviewing the phase three vaccine trial information put out by Pfizer and BionTech on March 31, Chin-Hong said the data indicates "the vaccine is safe, it's effective, in fact, adolescents have twice as many neutralizing antibodies as young adults. So we think it would really be a good vaccine in this population."
Because Pfizer already has emergency use authorization to vaccine teens as young as 16 years old, Chin-Hong noted that the FDA simply has to amend their current authorization to the 12 to 15-year-olds, which could take days or weeks, rather than months.
Stanford University's Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, has been urging the FDA, Pfizer, and other vaccine makers to move their data on 12-15-year-olds forward, so vaccines can be ready before the fall. Moderna and Johnson and Jonhson are expected to release their data on this age group shortly.
"In particular for summer, people are going to summer camps, they're going to maybe travel, and we want them to be vaccinated if possible before school starts, just to give that added cushion of protection," Maldonado, professor of global health and infectious diseases at Stanford said, adding that summer vaccinations would prevent interference with kids getting their fall flu vaccines.
Maldonado is expecting to begin phase 1 vaccine trials on kids under five years old starting next week. Stanford is one of five sites in the country testing Pfizer vaccines on this age group. She anticipates Stanford may conduct similar trials using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the future.
"The bottom line is there will be vaccines I think available for hopefully for 12-years-old and above by this summer, which is great," Maldonado said, adding that realistically, she expects children younger than 12 to be eligible by next year.