CDC Joins FDA in Endorsing Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Teens Ages 12-15

Ohio and Kentucky will immediately begin administering the two-shot vaccine to kids with parental consent.

May 13, 2021 at 8:31 am
The CDC has approved the Pfizer vaccine to protect teens from coronavirus. - Photo: CDC, Unsplash
Photo: CDC, Unsplash
The CDC has approved the Pfizer vaccine to protect teens from coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed administering Pfizer's two-shot COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 12 years old.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met Wednesday to discuss and approve the practice, putting the agency's recommendation in line with Monday's decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to give emergency authorization for the vaccine's use in youths.

Until now, the Pfizer vaccine had only been approved for ages 16 and up.

On May 12, the CDC also approved administering Pfizer's vaccine at the same time as other vaccines for all age groups. Previously, the CDC had recommended administering the injection at least two weeks apart from other vaccines, but the agency has found no adverse effects from administering them on the same day.

"For vaccination to do its job, we must do our critical part. That means vaccinating as many people as possible who are eligible," Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said in a statement Wednesday. "This official CDC action opens vaccination to approximately 17 million adolescents in the United States and strengthens our nation’s efforts to protect even more people from the effects of COVID-19. Getting adolescents vaccinated means their faster return to social activities and can provide parents and caregivers peace of mind knowing their family is protected."

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday that the state would immediately begin providing Pfizer vaccines to youths. The vaccine will be available to ages 12 and up at Wolstein Center Mass Vaccination Clinic in Cleveland beginning May 18 and at clinics, pharmacies and other locations soon. Children under age 18 must have parental consent. Locations and further information are available at

"For a year, Ohioans have made sacrifices to save lives and keep our state moving forward. What you have done has really worked! And now, we have a powerful weapon that is almost 100 percent effective in beating the virus," DeWine said. "Simply put, the vaccine is stronger and better than medical experts ever imagined. And now, everyone 12 and over can use it to protect themselves — to put an invisible shield of protection around themselves."

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear also touted the Pfizer vaccine Wednesday, saying that it would be available to youths within the state beginning Thursday. Residents can search the new and filter by vaccine brand for locations.

"We’ve seen new COVID-19 cases decline as more and more vaccines have been administered. Now, many Kentucky children and young teens have a chance to roll up their sleeves and become heroes for their communities by receiving their shot of hope," Beshear said in an emailed statement.

The FDA and CDC authorization come as vaccine demand among adults has been declining across the country. States have been ordering fewer doses, while President Joe Biden and his administration have been encouraging those who are skeptical to get a shot.

While overall COVID-19 infections have been declining, the age of infected and hospitalized Americans also has dropped after a vaccination campaign that prioritized older Americans due to their increased risk of severe complications.

Children who have tested positive for the virus have typically reported milder symptoms than adults. But some children have developed complications, including a rare, dangerous inflammatory syndrome.

In Pfizer’s clinical trial of 2,260 adolescents, side effects were consistent with those reported in the trial of people 16 and older, according to the FDA: more common after the second dose, and typically including pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever and joint pain.

The immune response also was found to be highly effective and comparable to the adult study, according to the FDA. There were no COVID-19 cases among those who received the vaccine and 16 cases among the placebo group.

Portions of this story were originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and republished here with permission.