Pfizer on verge of vaccine authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds

Plant City High School student Emmitt Allen can hardly wait for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which may be on the verge of becoming available to young people, ages 12 to 15.

The drug giant says its COVID-19 vaccine may be approved for emergency use by the FDA next week.

"It is really rare that you see something that is 100% efficacy," said Allen.

His mother, Damaris Allen is equally eager for him to be vaccinated.

"He is at school. He is at work. He does play sports. He is involved in band," she said. "To know he is going to be safe doing those things is really exciting."

In Pfizer's study of 2,300 12- to 15-year-olds, none of the vaccinated got seriously sick, compared to 18 in the placebo group.

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"You didn't even know the virus existed to now we have a vaccine within about a year's time," said Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Dr. Allison Messina.

This has huge implications for school districts that are considering an end to mask requirements and for herd immunity. 

Polls show as many as 30% of people are unsure about getting vaccinated. Experts are excited for the potential to add up to 750,000 young Floridians -- who are highly social and often indoors with one another -- to the list of those eligible for the vaccine.

"You really can't achieve a huge amount of herd immunity, or reach the herd immunity goal, without it including children," said Messina.

Reaching herd immunity could require as much as 70% of the country to be fully vaccinated. Only 45% of the country is vaccinated, so far. But adding tens of millions of young people in the U.S. would help. 

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Allen says many of his 16-year-old schoolmates are vaccinated. He wants to be in that herd.

"Now I feel like I can just focus on living life a little more," he said.

Pfizer now says it is going to ask the FDA for authorization to give the vaccine to those aged 2 to 11. It is also still studying the effectiveness and safety in those 6 months old.

Side effects for young teens mirrored those experienced by people aged 16 to 25.