Kansas to open Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to residents 12 and older

Andrew Bahl
Topeka Capital-Journal

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will now be available for Kansans aged 12 and older, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Wednesday.

The move comes after authorities at the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on recommending the Pfizer shots for those between the ages of 12-15.

“Health experts’ thorough, deliberate review process demonstrates that safety continues to be the number one priority in vaccine approval — and my administration is confident that opening the vaccine to young Kansans is the right move,” Kelly said in a statement.

The CDC's panel met to discuss the safety, immune response and effectiveness of the vaccine in this age group, after the FDA signed off Monday on the shots.

A syringe is loaded with the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer at a Stormont Vail mass vaccination clinic. Now Kansans age 12 and older will be eligible for the vaccine, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Wednesday.

The same Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices last December signed off on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adults and teens ages 16 and 17. Fourteen members of the panel on Wednesday endorsed lowering the age limit to 12, with one member recusing herself.

Out of an abundance of caution, the original recommendation for COVID-19 vaccines had included a two-week window of separation between a COVID-19 vaccine and any other vaccine so the cause of any side effects would be clear and so that safety data could be collected.

In a statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended COVID-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents, 12 years of age and older who don't have a medical reason not to.

In Kansas, counties have already begun scheduling events targeted at teenagers and some have planned on opening up eligibility to those 12 and older. Parental consent is needed to obtain the shots.

USA Today's Elizabeth Weise contributed to this report