Vaccinating Children 12-15

In the most recent Dartmouth-Hitchcock live COVID-19 update and Q&A session, Paul E. Palumbo, MD, an infectious disease-trained pediatrician at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD), spoke about the recent developments surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines and children.

On May 10, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to include children who are between 12-15 years of age based on promising data developed via a study of 2,200 children in the same age group.

The study, which represented children from across the country, divided the participants into two groups: a group which received a salt water placebo and a group that received the vaccine (the same dosage that is used for adults). The group that received the vaccine reported zero COVID-19 infections, while the group that received the placebo reported between 16 and 18 COVID-19 infections.

The difference in infection rate demonstrated by the study aided in the overall recommendation to begin vaccination for this age group, as well as the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

With the percent of hospitalizations and infections among the under 20 years of age group increasing, and the concern of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS_C), vaccinating children who are 12-15 years of age is incredibly important for their health and the health of their peers.

“I am very excited by the opportunity to offer this vaccine to those 12-15 years of age,” said Palumbo. “I'm also very excited about the almost certain upcoming opportunity to lower the age of vaccination, 5-12 years of age would probably be next with a prediction of late summer.”

As for the other vaccines, like the Moderna vaccine which has been available to  adults for months, the manufacturers are conducting similar research to determine whether these vaccines are safe.

Vaccination appointments are currently open for children between 12-15 in both New Hampshire and Vermont.