Experts say COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15 could be available by early May 

Right now COVID19 vaccines are approved for kids ages 16 and older but researchers say the Pfizer vaccine could be available to children ages 12 to 15 by early May. 

Patsy Stinchfield, a nurse practitioner and infectious disease expert at Children’s Minnesota, is a liaison member of the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices. It’s a group that’s part of the CDC that gives the final green light before new vaccines are made available to the public. 

She says the FDA is currently reviewing research done on the effectiveness and safety of the Pfizer COVID19 vaccine in children ages 12 to 15. After the FDA completes their review, an independent board will complete another review before sending the information off to the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices for final approval. 

"We really look at it from the lens of practical application," Stinchfield explained. "Is it safe? will it work? how about in conjunction with other vaccines?"

She says she’s expecting to get a call confirming a meeting to finalize this approval within the next week or so, as long as the prior review processes go well. 

"At Children’s, we’re really gearing up to vaccinate that 12 to 15 group in the month of May – probably in the first half of it," Stinchfield said.

This age group would get the same vaccine as everyone else, but the dosage could be different. 

"We actually call it the Goldilocks effect – you don’t need too much or too little, you need it just right," she said.

Those studies are also being done to see if the vaccine is safe for even younger kids – ages six months to 11 years old. 

"I’m thinking it’s not going to be later 2021, early 2022 for that younger age group," she said. 

Leaders at the Minnesota Department of Health has expressed their concerns about the number of COVID-19 cases among kids. Cases among those 15 and younger have been accelerating since the beginning of February. But over the last week, it appears things are slowing down.

Within Children’s Minnesota, four kids are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with two in the ICU. 

Stinchfield said it’s important for adults to get vaccinated to protect kids who don’t have a choice.

"If we have more vaccinated adults, we’re going to protect our kids. That’s the best we can do at this point."

Stinchfield said that if you get vaccinated within the next week or so, you can be fully vaccinated and complete that two week waiting period by the beginning of June - just in time to enjoy the summer.