Tests for the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12 have been ongoing, experts say that by September or October, vaccinations may be available. As of now, vaccination has been cleared for children between ages 12-16 but not yet for those under 12, but experts have highlighted the importance of child vaccinations for herd immunity.
Dr. Dean A. Blumberg, the chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of California states that while there is no real significance between the age vaccines have been approved for versus the age that has not been approved, it is important to go through the necessary studies to ensure safety and effectiveness. “You do them by different ages because we know that the dose may need to be adjusted, either a decreased dose if it’s a weight-based dose or maybe an increased dose due to the immature immune system and to look for any kind of unusual side effects that may occur while achieving a robust immune response,” he explained.
Studies that were done on children in the 12-16 age range showed that they actually had a stronger immune response and effectiveness to the vaccines than most adults and the second phase of trials for children under 12 began mid-May.
The Pfizer vaccine has been studying three age groups: 6 months to 2 years, 2 to 5 years, and 5-12 years. Moderna’s trials are testing ages 6 months to 11 years; Johnson & Johnson and Novavax are still continuing their trials for adolescents between 12 and 17.
Mixed responses from parents are likely to occur as parents will rightfully be worried about vaccine safety for their children. This ranges from parents who are excited and anxious to get their young children vaccinated as soon as possible, parents who want to wait until more information is released before they vaccinate their children but are open, and those who are hesitant to get vaccinated due to misinformation or lack of information.
Parents are urged to keep updated on COVID vaccine information so that they can be assured that the vaccine is safe for their children to take. The ability to get children vaccinated will help the US move closer to the goal of achieving herd immunity; children represent such a huge number of the population, and getting them vaccinated covers that large number.
While children may not be at the highest risk for COVID-19 infection, they are not insusceptible and they still have the ability to contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Children have also made up 20% of new infections, this is due to the fact that new infections are beginning to occur in those who are not immune, this largely includes children. Children being vaccinated is vital to getting the spread under control.