US coronavirus: Covid-19 vaccine could be given to Americans as young 12 this week. Some experts think it could turn the pandemic around
In what President Joe Biden called a “ promising development, ” the FDA on Monday extended its emergency use authorization (EUA) to give the Pfizer vaccine to adolescents as young as 12 years old. The agency also organized a meeting for vaccine advisers next month to discuss authorizing vaccines for younger children.
“This is big news,” CNN Medical Analyst told Dr. Jonathan Reiner to Erin Burnett from CNN. “The young in this country are now the reservoir of the virus, so if we are going to eradicate this virus, we have to vaccinate the young.”
Vaccinating younger teens not only means a greater chance of ending the pandemic in the long term, but also means they can safely return to the birthday parties and sleepovers they had during pre-pandemic life, said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
More than 34% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, data from the CDC shows. Dr. Anthony Fauci has estimated that about 70-85% of people must be immune to the country to achieve a “total blanket of protection,” he told CNN late last month.
With the EUA expanded, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on Wednesday and is expected to vote on recommending the vaccine for the expanded age group.
Once CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walenksy gives its final approval, states have permission to administer the vaccine to 12 to 15 year olds.
The morning the CDC grants that approval, Walgreens pharmacies will begin administering it, said Erin Loverher, Walgreens’ company spokesman. The company said it offers same-day vaccination schedules up to 30 minutes before the appointment.
With a delivery of 1,000 Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine doses arriving early Monday morning at Sandhills Pediatrics in Southern Pines, North Carolina, Dr. Christoph Diasio, an in-office pediatrician, is preparing to begin vaccinating as soon as possible.
“We’ve been on the defensive for 15 months,” said Diasio. “It’s time to take offense and end this.”
Parents are urged to catch up with children in other shots
While many experts are optimistic about the expansion of vacations, pediatricians are concerned about the challenge of balancing the planning of Covid-19 injections with keeping children informed about their childhood vaccines.
“We have seen during the pandemic that the number of routine immunizations has declined, and that concerns me a lot as a pediatrician because I know that many children have missed other important vaccines for diseases such as measles or whooping cough – which, like Covid -19, can deadly, ”Dr. Lisa Costello, a pediatrician at WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on State Government Affairs, told CNN Friday.
A study published in May 2020 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of childhood vaccines administered in Michigan fell by as much as 22%.
Scheduling those vaccines can be a problem because, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, it’s recommended that you wait two weeks after getting the Covid-19 vaccine before getting other immunizations.
“So it’s an interesting dilemma of how states and health care providers will think about trying to catch up with kids at the same time the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available (for kids ages 12 to 15) – and especially now because a lot of the Catching up is happening due to school requirements, ”Jill Rosenthal, senior program director at the National Academy for State Health Policy, told CNN on Friday.
“Summer, perhaps early fall, is a time when you see concerted efforts to make sure children are fully immunized.”
Covid-19 cases can lead to long-term treatment – even if they didn’t cause hospitalization
While younger people infected with Covid-19 may not be at such a high risk of dying from the disease, experts warn they can still have serious long-term effects.
People who tested positive but were not hospitalized during the course of their illness may be at increased risk for certain symptoms such as blood clots or difficulty breathing, and seem to see their doctors more often, new data suggests.
But serious symptoms after infection were rare.
In a study published Monday in The Lancet, researchers examined data from 8,983 unincorporated Covid-19 patients in Denmark using data from national registries of patient information collected from February to March 2020. The study used data from people who tested negative for Covid-19 as a control.
The risk of blood clots in non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients was 0.2%, compared to 0.1% in the non-Covid-19 population. In-hospital respiratory diagnoses occurred in 1.2% of the Covid-19 population, compared to 0.7% of the control population.
People with mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 were also at greater risk of starting bronchiodilator therapy to aid breathing or a class of migraine medications called triptans. There were no increased risks for other forms of medication. Non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients also tended to see a doctor more often than the control group.
Regions Making Progress Towards Herd Immunity
Some city and state leaders say they have made great strides in fighting the virus with immunizations.
In Connecticut, 71% of those 18 and older and 80% of those 45 and older have received at least their first dose of the vaccine, according to Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.
“We are very close to what they call herd immunity,” said Lamont.
At the current rate of vaccination, Los Angeles County is expected to achieve herd immunity by mid to late July, county health officials said in a news conference on Monday.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the Los Angeles Department of Health, explained that at least 400,000 residents must be vaccinated every week before the county reaches this level of community immunity. According to Dr. Ferrer still has to give the province about 1.5 million first doses before 80% of all residents are vaccinated.
“The more and more people are vaccinated, the less and less there is community transmission,” Ferrer said.
CNN’s Maggie Fox, Nikki Carvajal, Lauren Mascarenhas, Jacqueline Howard, Virginia Langmaid, Sahar Akbarzai contributed to this report.