Local 15-year-old signs up for first COVID-19 vaccine after Pfizer approval

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After months of waiting, Bellaire High School sophomore Nina Wallach made her first appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine Monday.

"I got a notification on my phone after English and I told my mom, I was like, 'Oh my gosh, we have to get an appointment really, really fast,'" said Wallach.

The 15-year-old said most of her friends have already received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which was given emergency use authorization for people 16 and older last month.

Monday, when the FDA extended that age group to everyone 12 and older, Wallach was ecstatic.

This group makes up about 5% of the U.S. population, but Dr. Michael Chang, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist with UTHealth and UT Physicians, says vaccinating adolescents is an important piece to stop spread of the disease.

READ MORE: FDA grants emergency use authorization for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12-15
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Expanding authorization to people 12 to 15 opens COVID-19 vaccination to another 5% of the US population, nearly 17 million more people.



"These 12-to-15-year-olds do seem to be as likely to transmit the disease as older adults, and they're also more likely to be out doing school activities and sports and things," Dr. Chang said.

Pfizer's clinical trial included more than 2,200 participants ranging in age from 12 to 15. Their research shows the vaccine's efficacy is 100%, and has similar side effects to adult patients.

"You should feel comfortable thinking that these 12-to-15-year-olds are going to be safe, and this vaccine is not going to behave differently in this age group compared to older adults," said Dr. Chang.

Xavier Academy, a private school near Upper Kirby, is already prepared. They've partnered with a pharmacy to hold a vaccine clinic for students 12 years and older on Thursday.

RELATED: Houston school plans vaccination event for students 12 and up
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Expanding authorization to people 12 to 15 opens COVID-19 vaccination to another 5% of the US population, nearly 17 million more people.



"This is a way out for us as educators, parents and students. That we can resume a more normal life at least being able to walk around without the mask, being able to hug," said David Garner, the director of schools.

As for Wallach, after more than a year of virtual school and social distancing from her band friends, her vaccine will mean a return to high school life.

"I wasn't able to travel or volunteer or go to band camp last summer, so I'm really excited to do them this summer," she said.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have children as young as 6 months old enrolled in clinical trials.

Pfizer has said it will seek emergency use authorization for kids between the ages of 2 and 11 in September.

It's unclear when Moderna will seek approval for younger children.

A preliminary study finds their vaccine is safe and 96% effective in kids between 12 and 17 years old.

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