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Northam, health officials react to Pfizer announcing vaccine safety among younger teens

On Wednesday, Pfizer announced its vaccine is 100 percent effective in protecting children ages 12-15.

NORFOLK, Va. — As millions of adults in America race to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the vaccine could soon become available to children.

On Wednesday, Pfizer announced its vaccine offers young teenagers serious protection against the virus. Based on results of a small trial, Pfizer says it found its vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 among children ages 12-15. The study found the vaccine is safe among that age group and those who received it only experienced minor symptoms, similar to young adults.

Amy Fraser, a mom of two living in Norfolk, said she’s willing to get her young children vaccinated as soon as health officials give their seal of approval.

“I think that just provides hope for the future,” said Fraser.

Pfizer’s trial included 2,260 U.S. volunteers between the ages of 12 and 15. The study found none of the kids who were fully vaccinated got COVID-19. Among the group of volunteers who received a placebo, 18 participants contracted COVID-19.

During a visit to Norfolk Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam called Pfizer’s announcement "big news."

“Probably this summer or late summer we’re gonna be eligible to vaccinate our children, and that’s gonna be an important step in getting our children back into classrooms this Fall,” said Northam.

Dr. Edward Oldfield, an Infectious Disease Expert at Eastern Virginia Medical School, said vaccinating children is critical in order to reach herd immunity.

“Herd immunity is gonna be somewhere around 80 percent or more because of this new UK strain that’s more infectious, and children make up 20 percent of the population, so I think we’re gonna have to get this age group vaccinated,” said Oldfield. “Just like we have certain groups showing vaccine hesitancy among adults, I think children of that same group is gonna experience vaccine hesitancy.”

It’s unclear how soon the Food and Drug Administration will give the green light to begin vaccinating children as young as 12.

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer said he hopes the rollout among children will happen soon.

“We share the urgency to expand the use of our vaccine.” He expressed “the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year” in the U.S.

Fraser shares that urgency.

“We’ve had a family member, a 10-year-old child, hospitalized because of COVID, so I don’t want my kids to fall victim to that. I want them to be able to go to school safely again in the Fall,” said Fraser.

Other trials at Pfizer are already underway among children as young as six months old to determine if Pfizer’s vaccine is safe for kids under 12.

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are also testing their vaccines in children.