MILWAUKEE - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday, May 10 expanded its emergency use authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to include people as young as 12 years old.
The CDC director still has to give her stamp of approval before vaccine providers can begin administering shots to the expanded age group.
A panel of CDC advisors will meet Wednesday, May 12 to review the data and vote on its recommendation.
A new wave of children is expected to be eligible for the vaccine by Thursday, paving the way for them to once again socialize with peers without fear of contracting COVID-19.
"This is welcome news of parents to children in this age group, and for the children themselves, looking to get back to life as normal – summer camps, sleepovers, sporting events," said Dr. Ben Weston with the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.
Ahead of the CDC's anticipated approval of Pfizer's shots for kids ages 12 to 15, and following successful clinical trials, health leaders are recommending the vaccine for the next age group. Currently, anyone ages 16 and up is approved to receive the Pfizer shot.
"This vaccine is safe, it’s effective, and remember, it’s free as well," Weston said.
According to a recent national survey, 30% of parents said they will get their child vaccinated "right away." Another 30% said they plan to "wait and see," and 20% said they "definitely won't."
"It’s OK to have questions, it’s OK to want to explore it further," said Dr. Kevin Dahlman, a pedestrian and medical director of Aurora Children's Health.
Dahlman is urging families that are unsure about the vaccine to talk it over with an expert they trust.
"I don’t want parents to rush into it if they’re feeling apprehensive, then I welcome those conversations," Dahlman said.
For those eager to roll up their sleeves, Advocate Aurora Health allows both patients and non-patients to sign up for shots through its "Live Well" app.
The Milwaukee Health Department is also setting up vaccine clinics inside area schools for students beginning next week.
"Obviously we need parental consent for vaccination. We're working with MPS and other schools to send those consent forms to families so they can be signed," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson.
Once a parent signs the initial consent form, they are consenting to both shots in the vaccine series.
Children can also get the vaccine at any number of walk-in clinics.