The U.S Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer vaccine for children between 12 and 15 years old, expanding the length of the population that will be protected against the deadly virus. The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is the only one to be authorized by the FDA for younger children. Before this announcement, the vaccine could have only been administered to individuals aged 16 or older.

In a briefing on Monday, FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock declared this act as a “big step” for the country. By vaccinating the younger lot, the state is moving towards full immunization that will help in countering the pandemic. Woodcock appealed to parents and guardians; The FDA has conducted exhaustive research before approving the Pfizer vaccine for children and ‘rest assured,’ taking the jab would be completely safe.

Woodcock’s statement lies following Pfizer’s clinical trials that concluded the vaccine was safe and effective in children between the age of 12-15, just like the 95% efficacy observed in adult participants. The Pfizer vaccine was the first of its kind to yield data in younger children, a crucial step in the smooth vaccination of younger American residents. At present, nearly 35% of the entire population has been fully inoculated. With FDA’s new approval coming into play, the number is expected to increase twofold.

FDA Authorized Pfizer vaccine for 12–15-year-olds Before the Pfizer vaccine was passed for authorization, the company had conducted a clinical trial with over 2000 children. According to Dr. Peter Marks, director of FDA’s Biologics Evaluation and Research; Pfizer found no infection cases among the 1,005 children who were given the vaccine. Only 16 out of 978 children who received the placebo displayed signs of infection. Thus, this indicates “the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing Covid-19 in this trial,” stated Marks.

The side effects observed amongst children were similar to those seen in teens and adults. Most of them had experienced “cold-like” symptoms in the days following the second dose. With this information available, the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for younger children as “potential benefits of this vaccine” are far greater than the risks involved, said Marks. He even went on to encourage reluctant parents and guardians to vaccinate their children as it has an “excellent profile in children.”

Vaccinating children does not only ensure their safety but also serves as ‘great news for the whole of the American population in general, remarked Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla. He took notice of the widespread hesitancy of parents in getting their children vaccinated, but was quick to assure them about the company’s transparent practices in testing children. Moreover, Bourla also declared that his company had conducted a much more exhaustive examination, way more than other vaccines.

Bourla noted that children can still spread the virus. However, that shouldn’t stop parents from taking their children to get the Pfizer vaccine as their vaccinations will contribute to building a stronger herd immunity.