Maine providers can begin vaccinating children as young as 12 against the coronavirus as the state presses to get as many kids inoculated as possible before the next school year.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended expanding the use of the Pfizer two-shot vaccine on Monday. States including Maine followed by authorizing use ahead of a Wednesday meeting of a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee that will have input on a new set of guidelines.
Vaccines were first targeted toward older people who typically experience the worst cases of the virus. Children have appeared to suffer significantly less dangerous cases, but they have represented an increasing percentage of new cases as the national vaccination effort continues. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in August that one-third of children admitted to hospitals received intensive care.
On top of existing eligibility for those 16 and older, the move will open vaccines to nearly half of children in Maine public schools, according to state data. Maine has previewed a plan to have clinics prioritize eligible students at existing clinics and then partnering with schools in June and July on clinics to get as many students and staff vaccinated by the next school year.
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