In an interview with ABC News ahead of the authorization, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said getting children the vaccine would be “great news,” not only for the kids, “but also for the parent, grandfathers and therefore the American society in general.”
Bourla acknowledged that some parents might be nervous to vaccinate their young kids, but said Pfizer has been “extremely careful with children” and waited to begin studying the vaccine with anyone 15 or younger until hundreds of millions of doses were studied in adults.
“What we can promise to our parents is that we have done very thorough examination, more thorough than in any other vaccine, exactly because of the visibility that this vaccination is having,” Bourla told ABC News.
Moderna, the second mRNA vaccine approved for use in the U.S., is available for those 18 and up. The company said it is still studying the results among children ages 12 and up.
While children are not considered at high risk of severe illness from the coronavirus, they represent about a quarter of the U.S. population and vaccinating them is critical to stopping the spread of the virus.
Bourla also noted that kids can still spread the virus.
“When the kids are vulnerable, they are also contributing to the pool where the virus can replicate and, of course also, they are contributing to the chain of reinfections to other group ages,” he said.
“In addition to protecting the kids, as I said, the most important thing is that you can contribute to herd immunity in the country,” he added.
Experts predict the U.S. needs anywhere between 70% to 85% of the U.S. population to be vaccinated before it can reach herd immunity, when there is enough of a defense against the virus that it will no longer be able to spread. Specialists say the higher number of people with immunity the more difficult it is for the virus to spread, so every vaccinated person reduces the risk for those around them from getting COVID too.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are continuing to study the vaccines in trials of children ages 6 months to 11 years old. Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, confirmed that the company is expecting to have data on vaccines for elementary school students by the end of the year.
ABC News’ Sony Salzman contributed to this report.
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