December 4, 2023

United States President Joe Biden makes remarks on the Covid-19 response and vaccination program on May 12, 2021 in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, Washington, DC.

Nicholas Comb | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden urged parents on Wednesday to vaccinate their children just before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the use of the Pfid and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for teens ages 12-15.

The previous Wednesday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued its recommendation, which was accepted 14-0 with one abstention. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky gave final approval to the approval later that day.

Speaking at a press conference, Biden said the approval was “another big step in our fight against the pandemic”.

Almost 17 million Americans can now get vaccinated, Biden said during a speech on the White House’s Covid-19 response and vaccination campaign. “I encourage each of them and their parents to get their vaccination shots right away,” he said.

In the clinical study of 12-15 year olds, the vaccine was found to be 100% effective at two doses. The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site and in joints and muscles, fatigue, headache, chills and fever, said Pfizer scientist Dr. John Perez told the CDC panel on Wednesday. Side effects usually subsided within a day or two, he said.

The Biden government is working to make the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine available in more locations in the United States, including pediatrician offices and local pharmacies, according to senior government officials.

The CDC, in partnership with states, has made efforts to enroll more pediatricians and general practitioners as Covid vaccination providers to expand access to shots in the coming weeks. The CDC will also work with community health centers to provide vaccinations for adolescents.

The CDC panel’s approval comes ahead of the summer camp season and July 4th – a date the Biden government hopes will mark a turning point in the nation’s fight against the virus. According to the Johns Hopkins University, more than 3.3 million people have died of Covid-19 worldwide, almost 600,000 of them in the United States.

Vaccinating children is seen as critical to ending the pandemic. The nation is unlikely to achieve herd immunity – if enough people in a given community have antibodies to a given disease – until children can be vaccinated, health officials and experts say.

As of Tuesday, more than 150 million Americans ages 18 and older had received at least one dose, according to the CDC. Around 115 million American adults are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. About 13% of adults say they definitely won’t get a vaccine, while 21% say they will “wait and see” or just get one if needed, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.