Will the Pfizer vaccine be approved for children 5 years and older?
Dr. Anthony Fauci states that children between 5 and 12 will be available this fall but those younger than 5 may not be able to receive their shots until 2022.
Children around the United States have returned to the classroom, in some cases, after more than a year. Their return comes as many the more contagious Delta variant leads to one of the worst waves of covid-19 since March 2020.
In the United States, children represent around 15 percent of all covid-19 cases that have been reported.
To date, children covid cases represent around 15 percent of all cases that have been reported. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has reported on the increase in cases of covid-19 among children being seen in the United States.
From 19 August to 2 September, an increase of nearly “10% increase in the cumulated number of child COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic (455,744 cases added (4,593,721 to 5,049,465).”
This past week was the highest number of reported cases of covid-19 in children seen since the data began to be collected in March 2020. This is primarily motivated by the rapid increase in cases seen in Southern states, representing more than half of all cases reported in children. Hawaii, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi saw the largest increases in child cases over the recorded period.
Cases of covid-19 in children are on the rise
Cases of covid-19 in Children
Percent of Child Cases within US Total
12 - 19 August
19 26 August
26 August - 2 September
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
With the Delta variant still surging in some parts of the country, children are contracting the virus more as they return to school. However, the CDC has found that children are not at a higher risk of severe infection from the Delta variant but that in areas where vaccination rates are lower, more children are being hospitalized.
Vaccinations for Children
Currently, only the Pfizer and BionNTech vaccine has been approved for use in children older than twelve. Therefore, younger children face disproportionate risk from the virus.
However, on Friday, the German publican Der Spiegel spoke with the Chief Medical Officer at BioNTech, Ozlem Tureci, who stated that "In the coming weeks, we will present the results of our study on the 5- to 11-year-olds worldwide to the authorities and apply for approval of the vaccine for this age group."
When could children under 12 begin to receive vaccines in the US?
In an interview with an ABC affiliate, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he hoped that the Pfizer and BioNTech trial results for those between ages 5 and 11 would be reviewed this month, while those for Moderna are scheduled to be released in October.
If scientists and experts find the vaccine to be safe and effective, Dr. Fauci said, “it is very likely that vaccines will be available down to five or six years old as we get into October and early November.”
However, for parents of children younger than five, more waiting will be required. Most children under five may not see any vaccine approved until 2022. The delay in the approval for the country’s youngest residents will take more time as trials must be expanded, which will be done after the results of the vaccine trials for children ages 5 to 11 are evaluated.
How many children have been vaccinated in the US?
As of 8 September, the CDC reported that 12.4 million children between the ages of 12 and 17 received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine. Around 59 percent of those ages 16 and 17 have received a shot, while the figure is only 51 percent of those between 12 and 15.
The CDC also reported 9.3 million children are fully vaccinated, with “48% of 16-17 year-olds and 39% of 12-15 year-olds,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Are more children being vaccinated because of the Delta variant?
While an increase in demand for vaccines has been seen in adults, rates in children have not followed the same trend.
Each week since 11 August, the number of children who received their first dose of the vaccine has declined. The AAP reported that between 26 August and 2 September, “323,000 children received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose,” down significantly from the “peak of 1.6 million [at] the end of May.”