EDITORIAL: Vaccine OK for teens will be good for all

The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y.
·3 min read

May 4—Soon, teens as young as 12 should able to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

That can only be seen as a good thing.

The more of the population that is eligible is vaccinated, the closer we can get to beating the virus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer's vaccine for teens, ages 12 to 15, by next week. Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for those 16 and older, with vaccines by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson approved for those older than 17.

According to sources in the company, the vaccine will likely be approved for even younger children sometime this fall.

In late March, Pfizer released preliminary results from a vaccine study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers, ages 12 to 15, showing there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared with 18 among those given dummy shots.

Kids had side effects similar to young adults, the company said. The main side effects are pain, fever, chills and fatigue, particularly after the second dose. The study will continue to track participants for two years for more information about long-term protection and safety.

And it isn't just Pfizer looking to get approval for teens. Results also are expected by the middle of this year from a U.S. study of Moderna's vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds. The FDA already allowed both companies to begin U.S. studies in children 11 and younger, working their way to as young as 6 months old.

More than 131 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine have already been administered in the U.S., where demand for vaccines among adults has dramatically slowed in recent weeks. All four of our counties are lagging behind the state average of 46.6% of the population getting at least a first dose, with Otsego the closest of 46.3%, Chenango at 41.7%, Schoharie at 39.1% and Delaware at 38.4%.

The U.S. has ordered at least 300 million doses of the Pfizer shot by the end of July, enough to protect 150 million people.

We must continue to work toward getting closer to herd immunity, the point where the number of people immune to a disease is high enough that the risk of transmission is low. That exact percentage is not known, but generally ranges from 75 to 85% of the population carrying antibodies against the disease, either through previous infection or vaccination.

Because of a portion of the population is hesitant, or downright refuses, to get vaccinated, it will be a struggle to get enough people immune at once to defeat COVID, but we have to try if we want to get back to some semblance of normal.

Allowing junior and senior high school students to get vaccinated will help lower the transmission rate in the school-age range, which Otsego County cited as a factor in local spread last month.

A walk-in clinic featuring the Pfizer vaccine is still offered on a daily basis at SUNY Oneonta. We encourage everyone who has yet to get vaccinated to go, and when vaccines are soon open to 12-to-15-year-olds, to get them vaccinated as well.