Why Don’t We Have a Covid Vaccine for Children Under 12 Yet?

48 million people in America are under the age of 12 – yet we still don’t have a Covid vaccine for them. The number of Covid cases for people under 18 is on the rise, from 16% throughout the entire pandemic to 26.7% for the week ending on September 23rd. That’s almost 207,000 cases during that week, which makes it the fifth consecutive week where we added more than 200,000 child cases of Coronavirus. As the number rises, parents anxiously await the vaccine.

Why We’re Still Waiting for a Covid Vaccine for Kids

Vaccines for children must go through rigorous testing for FDA approval. At the present moment, studies are being conducted so that research teams can collect trial data to send to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.) While the data from our adult research helps, it doesn’t speed the process along.

In August, the FDA told the companies making the vaccines that they needed six months of follow-up safety data. This is triple what was required for adults. The FDA also asked Moderna and Pfizer to double the number of children ages 5 to 11 in the clinical trials.

These additional measures are likely due to a June report, in which vaccine advisers to the CDC said that there may be an association between mRNA Covid vaccines and rare cases of heart inflammation in young adults and adolescents. Since children’s bodies are developing, they react differently than adult bodies and must be treated differently.

When Will We Have a Kids’ Coronavirus Vaccine?

Although there’s no set date, some experts say we’ll have a vaccine for kids under 12 by the end of the year. On Tuesday, September 28th, Pfizer submitted its clinical trial data to the FDA for children aged 5 to 11. Moderna is months behind them and Johnson & Johnson has yet to even start trials.

At the current rate, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that we are on track with our timeline to have a vaccine by the end of the year, but doesn’t want to get ahead of the FDA.

What the Vaccine Means for the Nation’s Health

As the largest part of our population that can’t get a vaccine, a children’s Covid vaccine is critical for their health. As the Delta variant spreads and more states are no longer requiring masking or social distancing, children’s cases are going up. The health implications of these actions are clear.

Experts estimate that herd immunity would occur at 85% to 90% of the American population being vaccinated. Even if all 28 million American children aged 5 to 11 got vaccinated, America’s vaccination percentage would only be at 64%. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey reports that just one-third of parents surveyed plan to vaccinate their young children.

It appears that even with a vaccine for children under 12 on the horizon, our health as a nation is still at risk. Coronavirus cases will continue to be an issue until we reach herd immunity, which will only occur when everyone gets the Covid vaccination.