New Delhi: "The light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and today it got a little brighter," said President Joe Biden on Monday (May 10, 2021) after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents.
This, notably, is the first COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized in the US for ages 12 to 15.
Biden has asked states to make the vaccine available to younger adolescents immediately and expressed, "This is a promising development in our fight against the virus."
"If you are a parent who wants to protect your child, or a teenager who is interested in getting vaccinated, today's decision is a step closer to that goal," the US President added.
Biden also stated that millions of 16- and 17-year-olds have been safely vaccinated, and as more and more Americans get vaccinated, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to fall.
"The safe and effective vaccines are curbing the spread of the virus, saving thousands of lives, and allowing millions of Americans to start returning to a closer to normal life," he said.
Peter Marks, director of the US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told Reuters that states will likely be able to begin vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds after an advisory committee of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the expansion on Wednesday.
Pfizer's vaccine is the only one authorized for 16- and 17- year-olds in the United States and around 2 million people in that age group have so far received at least one shot.
Meanwhile, Pfizer has said that it expects to have safety and efficacy data on the vaccine for children ages 2 to 11 in September when it plans to ask for that age group to be included in the emergency authorization.
The United States is the worst coronavirus-hit country in the world and has recorded over 3.27 crore infections including 5.81 lakh deaths.
(With inputs from agencies)