Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: Pfizer says its vaccine is 100% effective in children ages 12-15

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Pfizer announced Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before they head back to school in the fall.

Most COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide are for adults, who are at higher risk from the coronavirus. Pfizer's vaccine is authorized for ages 16 and older. But vaccinating children of all ages will be critical to stopping the pandemic - and helping schools, at least the upper grades, start to look a little more normal after months of disruption.

In a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given dummy shots, Pfizer reported.

It's a small study, that hasn't yet been published, so another important piece of evidence is how well the shots revved up the kids' immune systems. Researchers reported high levels of virus-fighting antibodies, somewhat higher than were seen in studies of young adults.

Kids had side effects similar to young adults, the company said. The main side effects are pain, fever, chills and fatigue, particularly after the second dose. The study will continue to track participants for two years for more information about long-term protection and safety.

What to know about coronavirus:

Tracking COVID-19 availability and progress in NYC
New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
Find out if you are eligible and where you can go to get your vaccine
Coronavirus by zip code - New York City
Do you have coronavirus symptoms?
national geographic covid newsletter sign up

Here are more of today's headlines:

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine batch fails quality check, can't be used
Johnson & Johnson says a batch of its COVID-19 vaccine failed quality standards and can't be used.

The drug giant on Wednesday evening issued a statement saying a vaccine ingredient made by Emergent BioSolutions failed a quality check. That's one of about 10 contract companies that Johnson & Johnson is using to speed up manufacturing of its recently approved vaccine. It was unclear how the failed batch would affect future deliveries of the recently approved vaccine in the U.S., at a time when new COVID-19 cases are rising again.

Paterson public schools extend remote learning
Under the authorization of the Paterson Board of Education Commissioners, Superintendent of Schools Eileen Shafer recommended continuing remote learning until further notice as local pandemic conditions continue to be assessed. "We owe it to our students, families and staff to not lose focus on the pandemic conditions. At present, the conditions are simply not favorable enough to reopen," Shafer said.

The board's decision came after a thorough review of many statistics of COVID-19 cases in Paterson, Passaic County and throughout the New Jersey.

Half of Nassau County's adult population vaccinated
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced Wednesday that 500,000 residents will have received their first COVID-19 shot, or approximately half of the county's adult population. Nassau County currently has the highest percentage of residents (36.7%) with at least one dose of the vaccine among New York State counties with a population of more than 500,000. The County Department of Health is running four vaccine distribution centers at Nassau Coliseum, Nassau Community College, LIU Post and the "Yes We Can" Community Center.

Virus variants represent 70% of cases in NYC
The Health Department released a new data report about COVID-19 virus variants. For the week of March 15-21, variants now represent over 70% of cases sequenced. The rapid increase in the proportion of cases due to these variants suggests that they are more infectious than previously circulating variants.

The New York City Public Health Laboratory and the New York City Pandemic Response Laboratory have been conducting systematic surveillance for variants. Five variants of concern have been detected in New York City: B.1.1.7 (first identified in the United Kingdom), B.1.351 (first detected in South Africa), B.1.427 and B.1.429 (both first identified in California), and the P.1 variant (first identified in Brazil). Three additional variants, known as variants of interest, are also being monitored in New York City: B.1.526 and B.1.525 (both first detected in NYC), and the P.2 variant (first found in Brazil).

France announces 3-week school closure, domestic travel ban
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a three-week nationwide school closure and a month-long domestic travel ban in an effort to fight the rapid spread of the virus.

In a televised address to the nation Wednesday night, Macron said efforts are needed as "the epidemic is accelerating." The move is a departure from the government's policy in recent months, which has focused on regionalized restrictions. School closures in particular had been seen as a very last resort.

NJ launches beta version of new vaccine appointment finder
New Jersey has launched the beta version of the state's new COVID-19 vaccine Appointment Finder, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday. Murphy said appointments are still limited, but the new tool will take some of the stress out of the search.

NYC could be 'completely out of this within 6 to 8 weeks': Health official
New York City is celebrating a new milestone in the battle against COVID-19 after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city has given out more than 4 million doses, more vaccinations than the total population of Los Angeles.

"We will start comparing to state populations because we have run out of cities to compare," he said.

Mayoral advisor Dr. Jay Varma says he is hopeful the city "can be completely out of this within six to eight weeks of very aggressive vaccination." Dr. Varma says that's only if people "double down" on the precautions and not let up now.

FEMA vaccination center opens at NJIT as eligibility expands
The FEMA-run vaccination site at the New Jersey Institute of Technology opened to the public Wednesday. The site at the Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreational Center will have the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 people per day. It's the largest vaccination site in the state. It is located close to public transportation, which is expected to increase access and is one of 25 FEMA-operated sites around the country. It first opened earlier this week, with exclusive access for NJIT students and staff.

CT expanding vaccine eligibility to 16+ Thursday
Connecticut is kicking off April by making COVID-19 vaccines available to everyone 16 and older. It is the state's biggest expansion yet, with all adults eligible beginning Thursday, April 1. Gov. Ned Lamont's plan has received some criticism and raised questions about how adults with high-risk medical conditions will be prioritized when the expansion is based on age only. State officials have said the age-based approach will streamline the rollout.

Goodbye empty middle seats: Delta to sell whole plane starting May 1
The empty middle seat on airplanes, one of the few advantages of pandemic, is about to disappear. Delta Air Lines, the last remaining US airline to keep middle seats unbooked, has lifted that prohibition as of May 1, the company announced Wednesday. It is another sign of a rebound in demand for air travel and greater willingness of people to resume pre-pandemic activities.

"As vaccinations become more widespread, consumer demand and behaviors show us that confidence in travel is on the rise and customers are ready to reclaim their lives," said Delta's statement Wednesday.

AstraZeneca blood clot reports: What we know about investigations into company's COVID vaccine
German officials have decided to limit the use of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine in people under 60 after more unusual blood clots were reported in a small number of people who received the shots. Earlier this month, more than a dozen countries, including Germany, suspended their use of AstraZeneca over the blood clot issue. Most restarted - some with the kinds of restrictions Germany imposed Tuesday - after Europe's drug regulator said the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks of not inoculating people against COVID-19. The seesawing back and forth on who can take the vaccine has raised concerns that its credibility could be permanently damaged. Here's a look at what we know - and what we don't.

Glen Island Park reopens to Westchester County residents
One year after New Rochelle became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, and Glen Island Park was turned into a drive-thru testing site by New York State, the park has been reopened to Westchester County residents.

"Glen Island was the first mobile testing site in the State and allowed us to conduct a robust testing program," Westchester County Executive George Latimer said. "Today, we're happy to announce it has reopened to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, just in time for spring. This is great news for residents of New Rochelle, Pelham and all other County residents who frequent the park."

Glen Island remains a COVID testing center with new traffic and security patterns in place. At this time there is no parking fee, but space is limited to 300 vehicles. Residency will be checked prior to parking.

NY collegiate sports can bring back fans April 2
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that collegiate sports can bring fans back to the stands under strict state guidelines, beginning April 2. Intercollegiate sports at large-scale venues that hold more than 1,500 attendees indoors or 2,500 attendees outdoors can host up to 10 percent indoor or 20 percent outdoor capacity. All attendees must present proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test result or completed COVID-19 immunization prior to entry. Colleges and universities hosting spectators for sporting events at large-scale venues must notify and coordinate with their respective state or local health department, aligning with the state guidance for professional sports competitions with spectators.

When did you realize the COVID pandemic changed everything?
Many of us had a moment, most often occurring in March 2020, when we realized that COVID-19 had completely changed our lives forever. Even though we've managed to move forward and adapt to a new normal, that memory still sticks with us. Tell us: What was that moment to you?

Top 7 COVID vaccine questions answered
You had questions about COVID-19 vaccines and 7 On Your Side is getting you answers from doctors on the front line of the pandemic.


Positive COVID-19 cases by zip code - New York City

New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
Find out if you are eligible and where you can go to get your vaccine
Do you have coronavirus symptoms?
Where to get tested in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut
WATCH: Eyewitness to a Pandemic
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus

Submit a News Tip or Question
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.