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What Do I Need To Know Before Getting My Young Teen Vaccinated?

Only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is currently approved for children age 12-15.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is currently approved for children age 12-15.

From Texas Standard:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on children 12-15 years old. It’s the same vaccine given to adults and older teens. Now, Texas health officials are awaiting recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how best to administer the vaccine to that age group.

Dr. Jennifer Shuford is Texas’ chief epidemiologist and a member of Texas’ COVID-19 Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. She answered some common questions parents might have before taking their young teen to get vaccinated.

What if your health care provider isn’t offering the Pfizer vaccine?

Shuford says parents need to call around to find a provider with the Pfizer vaccine in their area. It’s available nationwide, but not every provider offering a COVID-19 vaccine offers Pfizer. In Austin, for example, Austin Public Health is only administering the Moderna vaccine, while UT Health-Austin offers Pfizer. Parents must find a Pfizer provider because that is the only vaccine currently approved for that age group.

When will the vaccine actually became available for this age group?

As soon as Thursday, Shuford says. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting on Wednesday, and should have their recommendations finalized by the end of the day.

“After that happens is when all of those wheels go into motion and we start actually providing that vaccine for that age group,” she said.

Why aren’t younger kids eligible?

Shuford says kids’ immune systems change as they age, so the system of a 10-year-old isn’t the same as that of a 12-year-old, even if they have similar height and weight. More testing is still needed before the vaccine can be used on younger children, which Shuford says the FDA is working on.

“They’re already looking at vaccines all the way down to six months, but they’re doing it in age chunks,” she said.

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Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
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