A local doctor estimates Moderna's emergency use authorization for teens will be a month or more away.

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Moderna has announced its two-dose COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in adolescents.

“Having two vaccines available for teens is really a good thing,” says Chief of Infectious Diseases at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Dr. John Williams. “Teenagers are important people to get vaccinated, both for their own protection, to protect people around them, and to help them all get back school and social life.”

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The Phase 2 and 3 trials involved more than 3,700 children ages 12 to 17. Blood tests show the immune response is equal to that in adults.

“A standard measure for many vaccines is to look at the immune response and what’s called the antibody level,” Dr. Williams said. “The antibodies in the blood correlate with very, very effective protection.”

Beyond two weeks after the second shot, there were four cases of COVID in the placebo group, but no cases in the vaccinated group. And after one dose, the vaccine was 93% effective at preventing mild cases of coronavirus, that is, illness with only one symptom.

Dr. Williams says the analysis is compelling.

“It’s not very common in kids, but 15,000 American children have been hospitalized with COVID and over 300 have died. Those numbers aren’t very large, but if I can prevent that for my kids, that’s an easy choice,” Williams said.

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Side effects were mild, says Dr. Joe Aracri, a pediatrician at AHN Pediatric Alliance.

“Pain at the site of the injection, low-grade fever, maybe some fatigue, body aches, But they seemed to be tolerated very well in this population, even better than in the adult population,” Aracri said.

Moderna announced its findings in a press release. These have not been peer-reviewed and published yet.

“Once they have everything complete and it goes to the FDA, the FDA will then review it and see if it would meet the criteria for the emergency authorization act,” says Dr. Aracri.

Should emergency use authorization put Moderna into a vaccine clinic near you, the doctors say parents should be reassured.

“These two mRNA vaccines are very similar in terms of their effectiveness and safety. And the data so far in teens looks the same,” sid Dr. Williams. “So I would say to parents, whichever is available is fine.”

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It may be a few weeks before all of Moderna’s data make it to the FDA, where a careful review will be part of the process. Dr. Aracri estimates Moderna’s emergency use authorization for teens will be a month or more away.