Nearly a month after New York City public school students returned en masse to classrooms, the New York State chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians is recommending that all teens 16 years and older be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend public and private schools across the state.
The Academy’s recommendation however is only for children in a group covered by a full approval of a COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. At the moment, only the Pfzier-BioNTech COVID vaccine has been granted full approval by the FDA for use on teens 16 and up while the vaccine has been given an emergency use authorization for use on children between the ages of 12 and 15.
“It is imperative that we take steps now to protect as many children as we can against COVID-19 infection,” said Chair of the NYS AAP Dr. Warren Seigel said. ” As the CDC and FDA continue to test and approve immunization for younger children, we have an obligation to get the vaccine to those children to protect them from infection and severe illness.”
New York City officials issued a vaccine mandate for all Department of Education employees including the city’s roughly 78,000 public school teachers in late August but has not ordered vaccine-eligible students to get the shot. Instead, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter have encouraged families to have their children vaccinated through $100 incentives, pop-up vaccination campaigns, and requiring that students playing “high” risk sports get the shot in order to take part in competitions.
Although full authorization has yet to be granted to any COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 through 15 years of age, the NYS AAP is still encouraging parents to get children eligible to get the inoculation under the FDA’s emergency use authorization to get the shot.
According to a report released in August by the AAP, children now make up one out of five new cases of the virus representing a 200% increase in frequency among the age group since mid-June. Pfizer has used the rising number of new cases among children 12 and under to urge the FDA to grant EUA for their vaccine on children between the ages of 5 and 11.
The drug company submitted data on the vaccine to the FDA earlier this month with the agency pledging to act quickly and has scheduled to meet and consider Pfizer’s request on Oct.26, according to The New York Times.
Once the FDA grants an EUA for the vaccine’s use on younger children New York state pediatricians are “ready and able to vaccinate as many children as parents agree to bring into office” the NYS AAP said in a statement.