Pharmaceutical company Pfizer said it has gotten approval from the Food and Drug Administration to allow children as young as 12 years old to take part in coronavirus trials, according to The Hill

The move comes after health officials requested the expansion to make sure a safe vaccine was developed for children.

Before this expansion, people younger than age 16 weren’t involved in U.S. vaccine trials.

“I think this is a really big deal,” L.J. Tan, chief strategy officer of the Immunization Action Coalition, said to NPR on Tuesday. “Without clinical trials actually done in children, the only way to actually extend the use of the COVID-19 vaccine into children would be to rely on the adult data.” 

“Children must be included in vaccine trials to best understand any potential unique immune responses and/or unique safety concerns,” American Academy of Pediatrics President Sara Goza wrote in the letter

In September, Evan Anderson, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Emory University School of Medicine, said children should be included in trials to help develop vaccination for coronavirus before the 2021 school year. 

“We owe it to our children not to delay moving forward with initial studies to evaluate promising vaccine candidates,” said Anderson, who is also an investigator for the Moderna-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases trial of a potential coronavirus vaccine. 

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