When will it be safe for children to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
TAMPA, Florida – As the pace of COVID-19 vaccination accelerates among adults, many parents are wondering ‘when will we know if it is safe for children to get vaccinated, and have they really need to be?
These are good questions, especially since we know that children usually don’t get so sick with the virus. But two local doctors warn that there are still many reasons for children to get vaccinated, once a vaccine is deemed safe.
The two drug companies for which the FDA has granted emergency use authorization in the adult age group are currently working on pediatric trials.
“Children are always the ones they want to live for the last time, because they want to make sure that they are safe for the entire adult population before they go to children,” said Dr Thomas Unnasch, professor emeritus and Co-Director of the Center for Global Health and Infectious Disease Research at the USF College of Public Health.
Pfizer’s pediatric trials are the most advanced, so far enrolling approximately 2,259 children aged 12 to 15 in their first pediatric trial. Pfizer says they expect to see results in the first half of 2021.
“I think by mid-April they will have the answer,” Dr Unnasch said.
And as long as their vaccine is deemed safe, they will move on to their next age group.
“I hope it’s effective too, but it has to be safe,” Dr. Teng said.
This is the first step. So what about the need for children to get vaccinated when we know children usually don’t get so sick with the virus?
“The kids don’t really get sick from it. But any adults they come into contact with, and especially parents and grandparents, can get very sick, ”Dr Unnasch said.
And while there are fewer severe cases of the virus in children, they are not completely unknown.
“We have had, even in Tampa Bay, children under the age of 10 die from COVID. So it is not at all something benign in children, it is just less, there is less mortality compared to the elderly population. Dr Teng said.
Dr Teng and Dr Unnasch both warn that a path to herd immunity includes children.
“They speak of 80 to 85% of the population. Well, by definition that includes kids, ”Dr Unnasch said.
And Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease doctor, said ProPublica as late as last week, he expects children will likely be able to start getting vaccinated before fall. This is something that will become clearer as the pediatric trials take place.