The FDA expanded Pfizer's emergency use authorization permitting teenagers to be vaccinated, including children as young as 12 years old.
Shots could begin after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adopts the committee’s recommendation. The CDC advisory committee could give the final recommendation during its meeting on Wednesday.
15-year-old Olivia Kim is a Palm Desert freshman at Xavier Prep. She said she hasn't yet returned to the classroom out of fear of transmitting the virus to her family, and she's been waiting to get a coronavirus vaccine for months.
"I will feel a lot better going to school because I know that there's a lot less risk," Kim said. "It's an extra level of protection that's really helpful."
Kim's mother, Dr. Krista Kim, practices internal medicine and pediatrics. She said clinical trials submitted to the FDA show Pfizer's vaccine is 100 percent effective in 12- to 15-year-olds.
"Just sort of lowers that stress level a little bit and makes it easier for her to be out and go out with her friends without me having to worry," Dr. Kim said.
Rhea Hoffman, co-founder of Vaxie.info, has been helping hundreds of valley residents get vaccinated. She said vaccine hesitancy still persists among some.
"Some are saying 'What are the long term effects of this vaccination; we just don't know yet.' Others are saying, 'Children are not as likely to die from Covid," Hoffman said.
To find a vaccine through Vaxie, call (760) 833-0569.
In the meantime, the FDA already allowed Pfizer and Moderna to begin U.S. studies in children 11 and younger, working their way to as young as 6 months old.
Moderna is awaiting results on a study for its vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds. Those results are expected to be released by the middle of the year.
According to the CDC, there have been approximately 1.5 million COVID-19 cases reported in individuals 11 to 17 years of age over the past year. Children and adolescents generally have a milder COVID-19 disease course as compared to adults.
The Pfizer vaccine is administered as a series of two doses, three weeks apart, the same dosage and dosing regimen for 16 years of age and older.
Last week, News Channel 3 reported that Riverside County was preparing ahead of time for the potential announcement, ordering additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine. At this time, there is no word on when the county would begin vaccinating those 12-15 years old.
The county currently vaccinates 16 and 17 year olds, however, they must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian in order to get vaccinated.
Visit www.rivcoph.org/covid-19-vaccine to take a look at the vaccination clinics around the county. Many are now accepting walk-ins, so no appointment necessary. Those needing assistance making an appointment can call 2-1-1.
Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates.