Denver (KDVR) — Clinical trials show that Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective in kids ages 12 to 15. Right now the vaccine is only available for people 16 and up.
The company now plans to ask the FDA for emergency use authorization for the younger group. It’s unclear if the vaccine would be available before the start of the next school year, but the company’s CEO indicates that is a goal.
Now local leaders are reacting.
“I think it’s welcome news,” said Dr. Reginald Washington, the chief medical officer at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver.
He says the results of the small Pfizer study are promising.
“The good news is it’s 100% effective, meaning none of the vaccinated children came down with COVID, and the immune response was very robust, meaning they had a very high number of antibodies,” Washington said.
He says if the FDA expands the emergency use authorization, it would help achieve herd immunity and offer another layer of protection at schools.
“It’s going to be a game changer because it will allow children to go back to school safely. It will allow protection for the adults who work in a school environment, and most importantly it will again decrease the amount in of COVID in the general population, and that is our ultimate goal,” he said.
Although he believes precautions would stay in place.
“We still have to be diligent, and I think for the time being, masking will still be required,” Washington said.
School leaders are encouraged by the Pfizer news. Will Jones with Denver Public Schools released a statement Monday.
It reads, “We remain optimistic about the possibility of bringing back more middle and high school students for in-person learning in the weeks following spring break. We are also growing more and more optimistic for next school year, when we hope that we will be able to return to a normal school experience for our students, with health precautions always front-of-mind.
We are all driven by a shared passion to do what is best for our students. We continue to encourage all those who are eligible to get vaccinated to do so.”
Abbe Smith with the Cherry Creek School District released a statement as well. It says, “We are thrilled by the news that the Pfizer vaccine trials with adolescents are showing promising results. That is great news for schools. We will continue working with our health care provider partners to offer the vaccine to any students who are eligible to receive it, including in the future when eligibility opens up for children 12 and up.
We strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to receive the vaccine to consider getting it. We will follow the laws in Colorado, which do not require COVID vaccines for school.
At this time, we are committed to reopening all schools full time in the fall.”
Paula Hans, the Douglas County School District public information officer, also issued a statement. It reads, “The COVID-19 vaccine is another layer of protection against the virus. Combining this with other health and safety protocols such as regular hand washing, face coverings, increased building ventilation and more, we increase the protection against the spread of COVID-19.
DCSD does not require staff members to be vaccinated against COVID-19. We will continue to closely monitor the approval of the vaccine for students, follow state/local public health orders and Colorado’s Cases and Outbreaks in Schools guidance, as we prepare for the 2021-2022 school year. As more and more staff and youth become vaccinated, we expect that the impact of positive people in the school setting will be lessened due to exemptions from quarantines.”