The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday said it expanded the emergency use authorization for the use for the BioNTech/Pfizer coronavirus vaccination to include children and adolescents aged 12 to 15.
The vaccine by German vaccine maker BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer had previously only been approved in the country for people aged 16 and older.
Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock called the expansion “a significant step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic,” Woodcock said in a statement.
The acting commissioner said the agency “undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data” before issuing the extension.
Some 1.5 million Covid-19 cases in individuals 11 to 17 years of age have been reported to the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since the beginning of the pandemic.
“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,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.
“The light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and today it got a little brighter,” the president said.
Some 58 per cent of all adults in the country have received at least a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine while about 44 per cent of over 18’s are already fully vaccinated, according CDC figures.
Among the higher-risk group of those aged 65 and older, 83 per cent have had a first dose and 71 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Since the start of the vaccine drive in mid-December, a total of 261 million doses have been administered in the US, which has a population of 330 million.
The US has recorded some 32.5 million cases of Covid-19 and almost 580,000 deaths according to the CDC, both world leading figures.