Health officials say children ages 12-15 will be crucial in reaching herd immunity

Updated: Apr. 16, 2021 at 10:50 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Anyone 16 and older can get the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, but the company is requesting emergency vaccine approval for children ages 12 to 15.

Pfizer officials said the vaccine is 100% effective and safe for children ages 12 to 15. UAB health officials said if the vaccine gets emergency FDA approval, it will be crucial that kids in that age group get vaccinated.

State health officials said children 16 and younger make up 20% of Alabama’s population.

UAB public Health expert Dr. Suzanne Judd said to reach herd immunity, we need at least 70% of the entire population vaccinated.

She predicts if vaccinations continue at the current rate, we could get to full herd immunity by September, but she said it’s going to take majority of kids ages 12- 15 to get there.

“We actually really need to get the population as young as 12 at least 70% vaccinated,” Judd said. “That’s what gets us to herd immunity and that piece will be critical. Now that is out of our hands, that is in the FDA’S hands, but we really need this vaccine to be taken up by at least 70% of the population that is 12 and older.”

Health officials said it’s not clear how long the FDA will take reviewing Pfizer’s request to allow vaccination starting at age 12, so they said it is important to vaccinate as many 16 and 17 year old’s in the meantime.

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