COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer proved safe and strongly protective in children as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning immunization in this age group before beginning school in the fall.

In the United States, vaccinators are primarily targeting adults who are at high risk from coronavirus infection. Pfizer’s vaccination is authorized for ages 16 and older.

But we will have to vaccinate children of all ages to stop the pandemic — and help schools, at least the upper grades, start to look more normal after months of disruption.

According to a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data show that there were no cases of COVID-19 among the fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given dummy shots, reported Pfizer.

A small study has not yet been published, so another important aspect of the study is how effectively the vaccine stimulated the children’s immune systems.

Antibodies to virus-fighting antibodies have been reported in higher levels than have been seen in previous studies of young adults.

The manufacturer said that kids had side effects similar to young adults. The main side effects include pain, fever, chills, and fatigue, especially after the second dose. Pfizer will track participants for two years for more info on long-term protection and safety.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European regulators to allow the emergency use of the shots starting at age 12 in the coming weeks.

Pfizer isn’t the only company seeking to lower the age limit for their vaccine. Results also are expected in this year’s middle from a U.S. study of Moderna’s vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds.

 

The FDA allowed both companies to begin U.S. studies on children 11 and younger, working their way up to 6-month-olds by the end of the year.