Pressure mounts over COVID vaccines for kids; docs warn against off-label use

Enlarge / PALOS VERDES ESTATES, CA – AUGUST 24: A father helps his 4-year-old son with the swab for a rapid COVID-19 test. (credit: Getty | MediaNews Group)

After Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine earned full regulatory approval Monday, pressure is mounting to have the vaccine available to children under 12 years old—and so are concerns that it will be given to them prematurely.

The approval from the Food and Drug Administration covers use of the vaccine in people ages 16 and up, while the agency’s Emergency Use Authorization still allows for its use in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15. Some experts expect the FDA will grant full approval for use in 12- to 15-year-olds relatively soon.

But many parents and pediatricians are most eager for the green light to offer the vaccine to children under 12. Vaccinating young children has become a particularly pressing issue with the wild spread of the hypertransmissible delta variant, new school terms beginning, disputes over masks, and big holidays just around the corner. In a letter sent to the FDA earlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged the agency to authorize the vaccine for children under 12 “as swiftly as possible.”

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