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Pfizer asks FDA to allow its COVID-19 vaccine for younger teens

Pfizer said it hopes to make its COVID-19 vaccine available to kids in the 12 to 15-year-old age group before the start of the 2021 school year.

WASHINGTON — Pfizer announced Friday that it has submitted a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine to kids as young as 12. 

Most COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide are for adults, who are at higher risk from the coronavirus. 

Pfizer’s vaccine is currently authorized for ages 16 and older. But vaccinating children of all ages will be critical to stopping the pandemic — and helping schools, at least the upper grades, start to look a little more normal after months of disruption.

"Pending regulatory decision, our hope is to make this vaccine available to the 12-15-year-old age group before the start of the 2021 school year," Pfizer said in a tweet. 

In late March, Pfizer announced a study of its COVID-19 vaccine found it to be safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12.

In a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given dummy shots, Pfizer reported.

Kids had side effects similar to young adults, the company said. The main side effects are pain, fever, chills and fatigue, particularly after the second dose. The study will continue to track participants for two years for more information about long-term protection and safety.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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