COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Adolescents Aged 12-17 Years - United States, December 14, 2020-July 16, 2021

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021 Aug 6;70(31):1053-1058. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7031e1.


As of July 30, 2021, among the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States, only the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for adolescents aged 12-17 years. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in persons aged ≥16 years on December 11, 2020 (1); the EUA was expanded to include adolescents aged 12-15 years on May 10, 2021 (2), based on results from a Phase 3 clinical trial (3). Beginning in June 2021, cases of myocarditis and myopericarditis (hereafter, myocarditis) after receipt of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine began to be reported, primarily among young males after receipt of the second dose (4,5). On June 23, 2021, CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviewed available data and concluded that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination to individual persons and the population outweigh the risks for myocarditis and recommended continued use of the vaccine in persons aged ≥12 years (6). To further characterize safety of the vaccine, adverse events after receipt of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and adverse events and health impact assessments reported in v-safe (a smartphone-based safety surveillance system) were reviewed for U.S. adolescents aged 12-17 years during December 14, 2020-July 16, 2021. As of July 16, 2021, approximately 8.9 million U.S. adolescents aged 12-17 years had received Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.* VAERS received 9,246 reports after Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination in this age group; 90.7% of these were for nonserious adverse events and 9.3% were for serious adverse events, including myocarditis (4.3%). Approximately 129,000 U.S. adolescents aged 12-17 years enrolled in v-safe after Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination; they reported local (63.4%) and systemic (48.9%) reactions with a frequency similar to that reported in preauthorization clinical trials. Systemic reactions were more common after dose 2. CDC and FDA continue to monitor vaccine safety and provide data to ACIP to guide COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocarditis / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Safety*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / adverse effects
  • mRNA Vaccines


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Synthetic