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U.S. FDA expected to authorize Pfizer vaccine for 12-15-year-olds soon

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People wait for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccinations, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

WASHINGTON, May 5 (Reuters) - The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds very soon, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday.

The approval is highly anticipated after the drugmaker said in March the vaccine was found to be safe, effective and produced a robust antibody responses in 12- to 15-year-olds in a clinical trial.

"I think it's going to be very soon; I mean, I don't want to get ahead of the FDA but I believe it's going to be within several days," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC's "Today" show. "I cannot imagine it's going to be much longer than that."

The vaccine has already been cleared in the United States for those aged 16 and above.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said they were expecting the FDA authorization soon.

She told MSNBC that officials would move "to make this available" as soon as it is approved and were already planning how to get doses available to pediatricians and others to administer it.

Walensky said more than 40% of U.S. adults have received a COVID-19 vaccine so far.

Approval of the vaccine would boost the U.S. immunization drive and help allay the concerns of parents over the potential impact of COVID-19 on their children as many youth prepare to attend summer camp and to return to school full time in the fall.

Fauci acknowledged that CDC guidelines for summer camp are strict, with masks required at all times, but said the rules were being continuously evaluated.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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