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When can kids get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Kid receiving vaccine - coronavirus
Photo via SELF Magazine/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Two COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for distribution in the U.S., moving the country one step closer to ending the coronavirus pandemic. But as we inch closer to broad vaccinations, parents, in particular, are concerned about the hazy timeline when it comes to inoculating their children. How long will it be before kids can get the COVID vaccine?

Most adults will likely begin getting the vaccine in the first half of 2021, but the timeline for kids is much longer. While the clinical trials necessary to approve a vaccine have been administered on adults, none have yet included children. Before a COVID-19 vaccine can be approved for use on kids, these trials will need to be completed. 

And so far, Moderna is struggling to find enough kids to take part in a trial.

Testing for children is always preceded by testing for adults. Typically, vaccine developers will approve a product for adult use and then begin testing on teens, gradually going down in age until they reach children. As noted by the New York Times, children are often vulnerable in ways that adults are not. Minor inflammation in an adult can be severe in a child because of smaller airways. 

Trials including children are necessary before a vaccine can be approved for kids to ensure that any necessary adjustments are made. Pfizer recently began including children as young as 12 in its trials, potentially moving them closer to a viable COVID vaccine for kids. That being said, it could take up to a year before the vaccine would be approved for use in children.

Moderna began testing on participants between the ages of 12-17 in December and plans to track them for a year to ensure the safety of its vaccine. The company plans to begin testing children younger than 12 in early 2021. Even if the vaccine for kids is fast-tracked, it seems unlikely that it will be approved before the fall semester of 2021 begins. 

Pediatricians and parents are urging vaccine developers to proceed with as much speed as possible.

More than 1.6 million children have caught COVID-19, according to KHOU. To reach the benchmark of between 60%-80% coverage—which would effectively halt broad transmission of the virus, aka herd immunity—children and adolescents must be included in inoculations. Though most children experience mild or asymptomatic cases of COVID-19, they can still be carriers. Without a vaccine that is usable for our youth, they will continue to spread the disease throughout their communities.

Read more on the coronavirus vaccine:

Sources: New York Times, KHOU, AP, STAT


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