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Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 15-year-old adolescents, the agency announced on Monday.

Why it matters: The emergency authorization marks a critical milestone in the push to get more Americans vaccinated and fully reopen schools for in-person learning this fall.

  • Pfizer has said its vaccine was 100% effective at protecting against COVID-19 in a trial of more than 2,200 children between the ages of 12 and 15.

What they're saying: “Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic. Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data," said acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock.

The big picture: Children are at low risk for serious illness from COVID-19, but experts say allowing the virus to circulate among unvaccinated kids could lead to new, more dangerous variants and slow down the protection of adults.

  • Still, about 1.5 million COVID-19 cases in individuals 11–17 years of age have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • The FDA has already authorized Pfizer's vaccine for people 16 and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson also have trials for teens underway.

Yes, but: Parents' enthusiasm for the incoming emergency use authorization has so far been mixed, even among those who themselves have been vaccinated.

  • Only 52% of parents of a child under 18 said they’re likely to vaccinate their kids as soon as they're eligible, according to an Axios/Ipsos survey from April.
  • In a separate survey from KFF, 32% of parents said they'll wait to see how the vaccine works before getting their child vaccinated, and 19% said they definitely wouldn't get their child vaccinated. 

What's next: A CDC advisory committee will meet Wednesday to review the data and make recommendations for the vaccine’s use in 12- to 15-year-olds.

  • Moderna is expected to announce trial results for adolescents aged 12–17 in the second half of 2021, the New York Times reports.

Go deeper

Biden's booster plan receives criticism at home and abroad

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Photo: Samuel Corum/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Wednesday's announcement that all Americans will be eligible for COVID-19 boosters eight months after their second dose was met with skepticism at home and opposition abroad.

Driving the news: Many public health experts criticized the decision as premature or even unethical, and that eight months is too long — vulnerability can return as soon as five months after the second dose.

Aug 19, 2021 - Health

Washington state announces strictest school vaccine mandate in U.S.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee during a 2020 news conference in Seattle. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

All Washington state teachers and school staff must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 under a new employment condition announced by Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The requirement that includes school bus drivers and volunteers in the public and private sectors marks the strictest vaccine mandate for schools in the U.S. Staff have to be vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face the threat of being fired.

Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker