COVID-19 vaccines may soon be offered to people ages 12 and above

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Joe Kanter give updates on COVID-19 in Louisiana. (JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)

Louisiana Children as young as 12 could be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as next week if the Food and Drug Administration’s evaluation of the Pfizer vaccine goes as expected, Joe Kanter, the state’s chief medical officer said Wednesday.

“It’s very, very encouraging,” Kanter said during a press conference Gov. John Bel Edwards called. That press conference included updates about the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s response to it. “The data shows high, high efficacy and great safety in the age groups of 12-15 with the Pfizer vaccine,” Kanter said.

He said the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will review the data and make further recommendations next week. Gov. Edwards made the COVID-19 vaccine available to all Louisianians 16 years and older in March

After the FDA allows vaccines for 12-15 year olds, Louisiana will make  that age group eligible “very quickly,” Kanter said. “We would like to have a chance to review the data.”

Kanter said parents of children between 12-15 should “talk to (their) pediatrician now. Don’t wait for this to come out next week… get your questions answered.”

Under a new policy announced Tuesday by the Biden administration, any doses that a state doesn’t request from its weekly, population-based allotment will be held in a general pool, and states with higher demand can request additional shots from that surplus. 

Kanter said there’s “no question” the amount of people getting vaccinated has gone down significantly, and Louisiana now only orders around 80 percent of the vaccine doses made available to them. 

However, Edwards said he isn’t concerned about Louisiana not ordering their full allotment because “I have no doubt that the vaccines that we have on hand are more than sufficient to meet our need.”

Edwards said “nothing would make me happier” than if Louisiana had enough demand for vaccines to order its full allotment, but “we will not have anybody miss a first dose or a second dose that they need to have completed their (vaccine series) because of this new policy.”

According to figures from the Louisiana Department of Health, as of Wednesday, 1,486,080 Louisianians have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 1,236,489 have completed their vaccine series.