To date, researchers have yet to begin COVID-19 vaccine trials on children younger than 12, and trials in teens have just recently started.
It’s not unusual for vaccines to be tested on adults first because children’s bodies are still developing, and they can have different responses to medication. Adults are also generally more at risk for severe complications related to COVID-19. Children aren’t immune to COVID-19, but they tend to be more resilient and do better if they get sick.
It may take until the Summer of 2021 or later until there’s an approved vaccine for children. When testing does begin, researchers will need to examine the dosages, interval between doses, and the number of doses that work best for children.
Why Do Children Need A Different Vaccine Than Adults?
Children’s immune systems are different than adults and they can vary greatly depending on age. A 16-year-old, for example, has a much different immune system than a 16-month-old. That’s why more data and research are needed when evaluating a vaccine for children.
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Why is it Important for Children to be Vaccinated?
A delay in vaccinating children could slow down the country’s ability to reach herd immunity, the point at which enough people are immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely.
According to recent studies, about 75-80% of the U.S. population needs to be immune to COVID-19 to reach herd immunity. Without vaccines available to children, reaching herd immunity will be difficult.
Cases in children are rising, with more than 1.4 million U.S. children infected so far, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association. Because they can spread the virus to vulnerable adults, grandparents, and health care workers, it’s very important that children be vaccinated as soon as a safe vaccine is available.
When Will Vaccine Testing Begin for Children?
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech started testing their vaccine on children 12 and older this fall and expect to have full efficacy and safety results for adolescents ages 12-17 in early 2021. They’re currently working with regulators on a pediatric study plan for younger children.
Working in partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Moderna is finalizing a design for a trial for children under 12, which they hope to launch in the first quarter of 2021.
More Questions About COVID-19 Vaccinations?
If you’d like to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines or have questions about the vaccines currently available, visit the CDC.
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