Vaccines are now available to fight against COVID-19. The first vaccines released are authorized for use in adults and teens who are at least 16 years old. High-risk groups such as frontline workers and elderly people are first in line to receive the vaccines, with other adults and teens possibly gaining access this spring.
Research shows the COVID vaccines are effective and safe and the American Academy of Pediatrics urges teens and adults to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them. And yet, as the rollout of vaccinations against the coronavirus continues to ramp up, one group — kids — has been conspicuously absent from any of the priority groups.
Although children represent a small but significant percentage of coronavirus cases, a few of those patients have experienced some of the most severe COVID-19 symptoms. Plus, research has shown children are responsible for at least some of the virus’s spread. So, why aren’t kids getting vaccinated yet?
There are a few reasons. First, neither of the vaccines currently being used in the US has been approved for those under 16. But there’s also the fact that children tend to have a higher rate of recovery from COVID-19 than almost any other age group.
Second, clinical trials need to be completed before COVID-19 vaccines become available for younger teens and children. Obviously this is done to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective for these age groups.
Right now, it appears unlikely that a vaccine will be ready for children before the start of the next school year in August. While there are current studies that include children as young as 12 years of age, children of all ages must be included in more trials in order to safely administer the vaccine to them.
As of late January, Pfizer’s trial is now fully enrolled, including children age 12 to 15. The company has declined to provide an estimated timeline of when research will likely wrap up, but in general, clinical trials conducted in the US have moved along faster than anticipated, due in part to the country’s high rate of infection. Moderna has also begun clinical trials focusing on ages 12 through 17.
So far, however, the company has run into some trouble finding enough volunteers to fill its study. Parents can volunteer online to allow their adolescent children to participate, but Moderna says only about 800 of the 3,000 or so volunteers needed per month have signed up.