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CVS Health is now offering COVID-19 vaccines to ages 12-15 at more than 5600 locations across the country, the company announced on Wednesday.
Starting May 13, the participating locations will begin giving the Pfizer shot to the newly eligible group. Parental or legal guardian consent is required, and children must be accompanied by an adult.
“With every new wave of eligibility, our teams have worked around the clock to ensure vaccine access as soon as possible,” Karen Lynch, president and CEO of CVS Health, said in the statement.
“Offering vaccinations to younger populations at thousands of locations across the country brings us one step closer to prevailing over the pandemic,” she said.
The FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15 on Monday, expanding the original authorization for ages 16 and older. The CDC, as well as the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, also recommended the vaccine for ages 12-15 on Wednesday.
The Pfizer vaccine is the only FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine for the 12-15 age group, so CVS encouraged patients to schedule an appointment to ensure a shot is available. However, walk-ins are also accepted.
Between March 2020 and April 2021, about 1.5 million COVID-19 cases for ages 11-17 have been reported to the CDC. Children and adolescents typically contract mild COVID-19, but some have experienced severe COVID-19, developed a rare inflammatory syndrome, been hospitalized, or died.
“Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Peter Marks, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in the FDA announcement.
The FDA analyzed safety data that included 2260 clinical trial participants between ages 12-15. The most common vaccine side effects were similar to those seen in adults — pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle pain, joint pain, and fever. The side effects typically lasted for 1 to 3 days and were more common after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The FDA also analyzed efficacy data for 190 participants between ages 12-15 and found that the immune response was similar to the data seen in ages 16-25. No COVID-19 cases occurred among the 1005 study participants who received a vaccine, as compared to 16 cases found among the 978 participants who received a placebo shot.
“Some parents have already made plans for their adolescents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said in a statement announcing the CDC’s approval.
“Understandably, some parents want more information before their children receive a vaccine,” she said. “I encourage parents with questions to talk to your child’s healthcare provider or your family doctor to learn more about the vaccine.”