Cornoavirus

When will kids under 12 be able to receive a covid-19 vaccine?

Children as young as twelve could begin to be vaccinated next week, but when will those even younger be able to receive a vaccine?

When will kids under 12 be able to receive a covid-19 vaccine?
HANNAH BEIER REUTERS

One of the most puzzling pieces of covid-19 is the way each body reacts differently to the infection, especially between most adults and children. In most cases, children are less susceptible to the deadly effects of the virus, and thus the quest for effective vaccines has focused mostly on adults.

But today, with all residents over the age of sixteen eligible to receive a covid-19 vaccine in the US, the focus of clinical trials has shifted to the nation’s youngest residents. The trials have depended on tens of thousands of volunteers, and within the next few months, the results should be available.

Parents who are worried about the safety of vaccines in children should be aware that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that these vaccines and their trials “have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.”

When will vaccines be made available to children?

Vaccines will be made available to children as they are shown to be safe and effective. Pfizer-BioNTech could receive authorization to begin vaccinating children as young as twelve early next week. This news comes after preliminary findings from clinical trials showed that the vaccine was just as effective in people ages twelve to fifteen as older patients.

Currently, Pfizer-BioNTech is the only vaccine that can be given to minors. The CDC states that the clinical trials for Pfizer’s vaccine show that although “safety and efficacy data in this age group are limited, there are no biologically plausible reasons for safety and efficacy profiles to differ from those observed in people 18 years of age and older.”

As for the vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, trials with children are still ongoing.

Some see the news from Pfizer as a positive sign that vaccines will be available for children or at least adolescents before the 2021-2022 school year begins. But, caution is needed as the trials are not tied to any specific timeline.

Johnson & Johnson began trials in children between the ages of twelve and seventeen in early April, while Moderna’s trial with a similar age group started in December. In a press release put out by Moderna, the company stated that they would track the condition of the children included in their trial for one year to determine the impacts of the vaccine. Pfizer is the only company to test their vaccine on much younger children, including some that are less than a year old.

Why is it essential that we can vaccinate children?

To reach herd immunity in the United States, experts believe that between seventy to ninety percent of the population must be vaccinated. With a little over a third of residents in the US fully vaccinated, demand for vaccines is already decreasing across the country.

The nation is far from the levels of vaccination needed to reach herd immunity. Complicating matters is the fact that children make up about 22% of the population. With the level of vaccinations decreasing among adults, children may be needed to get the country closer to herd immunity.

Many advocacy organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have been involved or closely followed the clinical trials of covid-19 vaccines in children. These organizations believe that parents should feel comfortable getting their teens and children vaccinated once the vaccines are approved.

In addition, stay-at-home orders and attempts to limit visits to the doctor’s office during the pandemic may have forced some parents to delay other vaccinations for their children. The CDC is urging parents to ensure that they get their children are up to date on all vaccinations to avoid outbreaks of diseases that can cause serious harm to children.