Now that we’re finally seeing adults at higher risk for Covid-19 be immunized against the coronavirus, many parents are curious to know: When will my child be able to get a vaccine?
It will likely be months before they’re able to do so; when researchers test drugs or vaccines in adults first, they usually then move down the age groups, watching for any changes in the effective dose and for unexpected side effects. Although some vaccines — such as ones that protect against pneumococcal or meningococcal bacteria or rotavirus — were tested in children first because they prevent pediatric diseases. However, it made sense for coronavirus vaccines to be first tested in and approved for adults because the risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19 increases significantly with age.
It’s important for children to be vaccinated in order for the United States to approach the long-promised herd immunity — the point at which the pandemic will slow to a halt (hallelujah!) because the virus has run out of people to infect.
Here are the latest updates on the vaccine for kids:
From the New York Times—
Covid Vaccines for Kids Are Coming, but Not for Many Months
Pfizer and Moderna have enrolled children 12 and older in clinical trials of their vaccines and hope to have results by the summer. Depending on how the vaccines perform in that age group, the companies may then test them in younger children. The Food and Drug Administration usually takes a few weeks to review data from a clinical trial and authorize a vaccine.
Three other companies — Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and AstraZeneca — also plan to test their vaccines in children, but are further behind.
Oxford-AstraZeneca begins a vaccine trial for children. It’s the youngest group yet to be tested.
Oxford University announced Friday it started testing its coronavirus vaccine in children as young as 6 in a move that expands coronavirus vaccine trials to the youngest age group yet.
The Oxford trial will include 300 child volunteers ages 6 to 17, with 240 of them receiving the vaccine co-developed with drugmaker AstraZeneca; the remaining participants will receive a control meningitis vaccine that has been proved safe in children but is expected to mimic side effects of a covid-19 shot, the university said in a statement.
Before the Oxford-AstraZeneca trial, testing had not included children younger than 12. Three other companies — Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen — have announced plans to start trials for younger children this spring.
How coronavirus vaccines will make their way from adults to children
Now, doctors say it is increasingly urgent to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine for children.
As of Feb. 4, approximately more than 2.9 million U.S. children had tested positive for the virus since the onset of the pandemic, representing 12.9% of all cases in states that report cases by age, according to data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
And now, experts from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center report that the infection rate in children is equivalent to the infection rate in adults.
“If you wipe out the infection in the younger children, they don’t spread it to the adults, and so then, you can get a big handle on disease just by targeting the younger children and getting the infection out of that age group,” Dr. Robert Frenck, lead investigator of the COVID-19 vaccine trials at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, explained during a briefing on Friday.