The race is on to vaccinate the nation’s nearly 17 million 12- to 15-year-olds, after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for their age group, the New York Times reported on May 11.
The F.D.A.’s decision, announced Monday afternoon, presents a new opportunity in the push for broad immunity against the coronavirus in the United States, but the challenges are more daunting than for immunizing older, more independent teenagers.
Final approval from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to come on May 12, according to NJ.com.
A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor found that many parents — even those who eagerly got their own COVID shots — are reluctant to vaccinate pubescent children. Yet doing so will be critical for further reducing transmission of the virus, smoothly reopening middle and high schools and regaining some sense of national normalcy.
And while Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday said the number of New Jersey residents under 18 who have died from the virus in New Jersey has remained low — so far, seven — the state is hoping to move forward soon on plans to vaccinate its younger population, according to NJ.com.
According to the health department’s dashboard, of the state’s total 880,635 confirmed cases, adolescents 0-4 make up 2.1% (18,166 cases) and those 5-17 make up 10% (87,766 cases). There have been seven adolescent deaths of the more than 23,000 reported so far.
Murphy said that the state plans to set up vaccine clinics in places that are “comforting and accessible.” That may include schools, pediatrician offices, local pharmacies and existing mega-sites. Bringing vaccines from mega-sites to communities for adults and eligible teens to have easier access is also on the table, the governor added.
The NJSBA will continue to provide its members with the latest COVID information in School Board Notes as developments warrant.