Children in high school — roughly ages 14-18 in the United States — should be able to get the vaccine “sometime this fall,” Fauci told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday last week. The mass vaccination of school-age children will allow millions of children to return sooner to in-person learning and ease the burden on millions of parents now caring for their offspring at home.
The United States could start vaccinating older children against Covid-19 by the fall and younger ones by year-end or early 2022, the White House’s top pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
The mass vaccination of school-age children will allow millions of children to return sooner to in-person learning and ease the burden on millions of parents now caring for their offspring at home.
School reopenings, an intensely debated matter, have varied sharply across the country, with some private and religious schools opening before public schools and teachers in some areas protesting any early return.
But the decision Saturday by the US Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency use authorization to a new single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has boosted the prospects for earlier reopenings. “We now have three really efficacious vaccines,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.”
With vaccines becoming available to protect against COVID-19, we’ve made a big step toward slowing down the virus that causes this deadly disease. The first vaccines released are authorized for use in adults and teens who are at least 16 years old. High-risk groups such as frontline workers and elderly people are first in line to receive the vaccines, with other adults and teens likely to have access later this spring.
Research shows these new vaccines to be remarkably effective and safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges teens and adults to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them.
Before COVID-19 vaccines become available for younger teens and children, clinical trials need to be completed. This is to ensure they are safe and effective for these age groups. Children are not little adults; we can’t just assume a vaccine will have the same effect on a child as it does for someone older.
While there are current studies that include children as young as 12 years of age, it is critical that children of all ages be included in more trials as quickly as possible.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a terrible toll on children’s lives. We need more data on vaccines for children so they can be protected from this virus and the pandemic can be controlled. Once this information is available, the AAP will review it and make vaccine recommendations for children and adolescents.
For now, none of the three authorized vaccines in the US (also including Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) has been cleared for children under 16, but trials on children are under way.