Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine is 100% Effective for Adolescents

Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine is 100% Effective for Adolescents

Ayden Nguyen, Writer

Pfizer/BioNTech have announced that their COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents is 100% effective and can be given to children ages 12-15. They plan to have the United States Food and Drug Administration(FDA) authorize the two dose vaccine.


In the last phase of the vaccine trials, Pfizer had 2,260 volunteers ages 12-15. A month after the second dose, strong antibody responses were recorded. The antibody response exceeded those of people ages 16-25. Of the 1,129 people who received the placebo, 18 COVID cases were recorded. Of the 1,131 people who were vaccinated, no COVID cases were found. 


Comparison of results from the older population and younger population helps scientists learn more about the efficacy of the vaccine and build off their previous knowledge. For example, Pfizer compared the side effects of the vaccine in both age groups. Common side effects were a sore arm, tiredness, and fever. These were found in adults too. Also, researchers compared the amount of antibodies in both age groups. If the vaccine has similar, if not the same, amount of effectiveness in both groups, it can be determined as effective. Since researchers know how the vaccine works in adults, they can correlate that to adolescents. Therefore, they do not require as many volunteers to test the vaccine in adolescents.


“We share the urgency to expand the authorization of our vaccine to use in younger populations and are encouraged by the clinical trial data from adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15,” says Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, “We plan to submit these data to [the] FDA as a proposed amendment to our Emergency Use Authorization in the coming weeks and to other regulators around the world, with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year.” 


“I think it’s likely a green light to move forward, to move down in terms of vaccinating adolescents 12 to 15,” says Dr. Peter Hotez, “The bottom line is that by the fall I think there’s a good possibility we’ll be vaccinating teenagers, 12 and up, and for middle schools, junior high schools, high schools, it’s really good news in the United States for both teachers and staff. We’ll have teachers and staff vaccinated, we’ll have students vaccinated in those middle schools and high schools.” Students returning to school isn’t the only upside to getting vaccinated. It is important that people become protected through vaccination because there are still virus variants that are spreading.


“We all long for a normal life. This is especially true for our children,” says Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, “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.”


A separate study is being conducted by Pfizer/BioNTech involving vaccine efficacy in children ages 6 months to 11 years. The company started by testing 5 to 11 year olds and then working their way down to children ages 6 months. They expect to have results by the end of 2021. Moderna is also testing their vaccine for children ages 12-17 and 6 months to 11 years.


Experts predict that COVID vaccines for children 11 and under will not be available before the upcoming school year. Dr. Anthony Fauci says that those children may have to wait until the beginning of 2022. Dr. Buddy Creech, director of Vanderbilt University’s Vaccine Research Program and an investigator in Moderna’s pediatric trials, says that a COVID vaccine could be available to 12 year olds and up by July or August and in November or December at the earliest for children ages 11 or younger.