Moderna vaccine

Pictured is a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna officials said the company has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand the emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 to 17.

If approved, this would be the second vaccine available for children. Moderna’s vaccine, one of three that have been granted emergency use, is currently available for people 18 and older.

Pfizer’s vaccine is the only one being used in people ages 12 to 17.

Moderna officials announced the request in a statement Thursday, citing a recent study that showed the vaccine was 100-percent effective in children 12 to 17. The study enrolled 3,732 participants in the U.S., Moderna officials said.

Moderna’s vaccine requires a two-dose regimen, with shots taken 28 days apart.

Vaccinating children is seen as a critical step in ending the pandemic. The nation is unlikely to reach herd immunity — when enough people in a given community have antibodies against a specific disease — until children can get vaccinated, officials have said.

In May, the FDA authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15, declaring the vaccine “safe” and that it “offers strong protection for younger teens” based on testing of more than 2,000 U.S. volunteers.

Shortly after, Louisiana health leaders launched a campaign to encourage young teens to get a COVID-19 vaccine as summer approaches, calling it “important for the health of all our children.”

In a letter with a dozen pediatricians, Dr. Joe Kanter, the state health officer, urged parents and caregivers “to protect their eligible children against COVID-19” by having them get vaccinated. Kanter and pediatricians said vaccinations “are the best way for this age group to safely return to school and to summer activities like camp, and vital for the protection of families.”

“Vaccination of adults and children is necessary to prevent the continued spread of this virus in our communities and the emergence of the variants that threaten to prolong this pandemic,” the letter said.

To read the statement from Moderna, click here.

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