New Jersey to ‘Green Light’ Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Adolescents After FDA Approval

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

TRENTON, N.J. — On Monday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said that the state will give “the green light” for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine model to be administered to residents aged 12-15.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization order for Pfizer’s vaccine to include younger residents. Initially, the FDA authorized Pfizer’s vaccine to be used in individuals aged 16 and older, but an amendment to the original emergency use authorization was put in place to include those from the ages of 12-15.

Gov. Murphy’s regularly-scheduled COVID-19 briefing took place at 1 p.m. Monday, and the FDA announced the expansion to younger residents on Monday evening.

“This approval would be a big step for the health not just of our state broadly, but in particular of our school communities,” Gov. Murphy said Monday. “[New Jersey Department of Health commissioner] Judy [Persichilli]’s team has already been thinking ahead for this eventuality. The department’s overall goal is to ensure that adolescents who are eligible to be vaccinated receive their doses in an environment that is comforting and accessible, whether it be through partnerships with their schools or their pediatricians, perhaps at a local pharmacy, or even at one of our mega sites.”

The governor said that New Jersey will focus on giving parents access to information about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and the previously-announced “Operation Jersey Summer” outreach campaign will also include younger community members going forward. The state’s Department of Health is currently working to finalize formal plans for parents, guardians, and medical practitioners regarding the vaccination of adolescents in New Jersey.

“We anticipate being able to transition to vaccinating eligible adolescents as soon as Pfizer receives its emergency use authorization,” Gov. Murphy said a few hours before Pfizer’s emergency use authorization became official on Monday. “This is one of the areas where we anticipate using our mega sites in what we referred to last week as a hub and spoke model and bringing doses from our mega sites directly to the communities with these adolescents and their families reside.”

As of Tuesday morning, New Jersey’s COVID-19 dashboard reported that a total of 7,652,487 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine models have been administered in New Jersey. Of those, 3,468,784 people have been fully inoculated after receiving the second Pfizer or Moderna dose — or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson model. An additional 4,462,130 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine models, and New Jersey is still on track to reach its goal of fully inoculating 4.7 million people by the end of June.

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.