WASHINGTON - At least 600,000 children ages 12 to 15 have received a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination — less than a week since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the emergency use of vaccines for the younger age group.
"Last week FDA authorized and CDC recommended use of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents. In less than one week, we have vaccinated more than 600,000 12- to 15-year-olds, and in total, more than 4.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 have been vaccinated so far. My own son was one of them," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a press briefing Tuesday.
On May 12, an advisory panel for the CDC voted to endorse the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for older children ages 12 to 15, one of the final steps toward making the shots widely available for the age group in an effort to speed up the return to schools.
This approval quickly followed the Food and Drug Administration expanding its emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12 to 15. The FDA cited evidence that the shots worked as well for the younger age group as for those 16 and older.
As of Friday, approximately 57% of people 12 and older have received one dose of the vaccine, and 45% have received both doses, according to data from the CDC.
A band-aid is placed on the arm of a 12 year old child after they received a first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine after it was approved for use by the FDA in children 12 and over at a Los Angeles County mobile vaccination clinic on May 14, 2021
President Joe Biden said the approval of the shot for adolescents is "one more giant step in our fight against the pandemic."
"I sincerely thank the scientists, researchers and clinical trial participants. They’ve all made this possible. Because of them, nearly 17 million more Americans are eligible to get vaccinated — and now," Biden said.
"As I promised last week, we’re ready. This new population is going to find this vaccination rollout fast and efficient. As of tomorrow, more than 15,000 pharmacies across the country are going to be ready to vaccinate this age group," he continued.
Meanwhile, Walensky also announced a decrease in hospital admissions and deaths related to COVID-19 in the U.S., along with the lowest seven-day average since March 2020.
"Cases have continued to decrease and have not been this low since spring of last year," Walensky said.
Kelly Hayes contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.