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The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to extend authorization for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to children between the ages of 12 and 15 next week, providing access to millions of young Americans, according to multiple reports.

The New York Times, citing officials familiar with the plans, first reported Monday that the FDA was set to grant drugmakers expanded emergency use approval, a key step in the process. increase in the country’s immunity levels, which in turn would reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would then convene their vaccine advisory group and make recommendations on how vaccines should be used in the adolescent age group. The Pfizer vaccine is already approved for ages 16 and over.

The expansion would offer a lot of comfort to schools as they prepare to resume some semblance of normal activity by the fall.

In March, Pfizer and BioNTech said clinical trial data showed their vaccine to be extremely effective in children ages 12 to 15, with strong antibody responses and no serious side effects. The companies have also launched a clinical trial of the use of the vaccine in children aged 5 to 11.

“All over the world, we aspire to a normal life. This is especially true for our children, ”Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, said in a statement in March. “It is very important to allow them to resume their daily school life and to meet their friends and family while protecting them and their loved ones.”

Children are much less likely to suffer from severe cases of COVID-19, but they can still be infected with the coronavirus.

More than 147 million people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine in the United States, and about 131 million bites have been of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to the CDC. The Biden administration, however, has been working on a new phase of its vaccination blitz, as demand for vaccines has started to decline.

The Times also reported on Monday that experts say it is increasingly unlikely to achieve “herd immunity” in the country due to a combination of vaccine reluctance and the rise of disturbing variants. of COVID-19.

A HuffPost guide to the coronavirus


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