The rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 has been "better than expected," Dr. Lisa Costello, a pediatrician at West Virginia University Medicine Children's Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on State Government Affairs, told CNN.
Costello said that the rollout for that age group in the United States has been reminiscent of when the vaccine was first authorized for adults in December – and those very first doses were administered.
"As we've seen this new age category, from 12 to 15, it's brought renewed hope. Many of the people who I know that work the various vaccine clinics, they've told me it felt like December when we were giving those first shots," Costello said. "People are so hopeful."
It has been one week since the rollout for younger teens and pre-teens began. The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of Pfizer/BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine in the new age group last Monday and then on Wednesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended using the vaccine in that age group.
"In less than one week, we have vaccinated more than 600,000 12- to 15-year-olds," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Tuesday.
In total, about 3.5 million children 12-17 have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine so far, according to the latest CDC data. Walensky said that her own son was one of them.
Both CVS and Walgreens pharmacies confirmed to CNN via email on Tuesday that their locations are continuing to vaccinate adolescents ages 12 to 15 and Walgreens noted that there was "a spike in booked appointments, indicating early interest from parents to vaccinate their children." Yet neither company provided data on just how many young people have received their first dose of vaccine yet so far.
It's still too early to tell exactly how the rollout is going nationwide and where it's heading – but it seems that there has been a "pretty brisk uptake" of the vaccine among this younger age group so far, Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told CNN on Tuesday.
In West Virginia, there has been a lot of demand for the vaccine and enough supply to meet that demand, Costello said.
"Our state took preparatory action to make sure that there would be enough Pfizer product in supplies so that we would have enough to be able to offer a vaccine to that age group," Costello said.
"But certainly I think we need to continue to work to boost confidence and share information," she added. "We have to continue to inform the public as to where the vaccines are."
Parents and guardians can visit vaccines.gov to find where vaccines may be available for young teens in their area.