Austin-area health officials prep for vaccines to open to kids 12 and up

Photo of a gloved hand holding a vaccine vial with the words "vaccine news" superimposed
Pfizer vaccines could become available to kids 12 and up as soon as next week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)

Pfizer vaccines could become available to kids 12 and up as soon as next week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)

Travis County health authorities said they expect the Food & Drug Administration to expand authorization of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to include children 12 years and older within a week and encouraged parents to act quickly once the authorization comes through.

Pfizer's vaccine was first granted an emergency use authorization, or EUA, in December, allowing Americans age 16 and up to receive a shot. In April, Pfizer officially requested the FDA expand the EUA to include 12- to 15-year-olds after a Phase 3 clinical trial for that age group indicated safety and efficacy equal to that seen in adults, according to the company.

The New York Times reported May 3 that the FDA was expected to approve Pfizer's request by early next week. Austin-Travis County interim Health Authority Mark Escott on May 4 confirmed that expectation in a presentation to Austin and Travis County officials.

"We encourage parents of middle schoolers and high schoolers, as soon as that is approved, to sign up with vaccinators who are providing the Pfizer vaccine and get their children vaccinated—certainly, before the beginning of the next school year, but as soon as possible would be even better," Escott said.

According to Escott, the expansion of Pfizer EUA will help the Austin area get closer to reaching possible herd immunity. Currently, Austin Public Health estimates that 47% of Austin-Travis County residents have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose. That percentage needs to increase to at least 67%, APH officials have said, before herd immunity will be a possibility.


Pfizer also announced in a May 4 quarterly earnings call that it was on track to seek EUA expansion to include children age 2 and up by September. Both of the other vaccines currently available to U.S. residents—manufactured by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—are currently authorized for adults only.
By Olivia Aldridge

Multi-Platform Journalist

Olivia hosts and produces Community Impact Newspaper's podcasts, The Austin Breakdown, The Houston Breakdown and The DFW Breakdown. She launched the podcasts after nearly three years as a reporter for the newspaper, covering public health, business, development and Travis County government for the Central Austin edition. Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas.