As the United States and several countries around the world roll out the vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, many are wondering about the development of vaccines for minors.
According to the New York Times, both Pfizer and Moderna are looking to complete clinical trials before summer and hopefully get Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval by late summer.
Starting in December 2020, Moderna began clinical trials with kids from 12 to 17 years, and plans to begin with kids between the age of six months and 11 years later this year. Pfizer began clinical trials, as well, but they are currently only looking at the older age bracket, with minors between the ages of 12 and 17. Johnson & Johnson has not begun any trials for minors yet but is projected to begin halfway through 2021.
The main issue as of right now, and the reason why trials are taking a little longer, is the lack of volunteers, according to the New York Times. Many parents are skeptical to enroll their children, especially when they are already at low risk of suffering from severe reactions to the virus. Kids are at a lower risk than adults, but if they receive vaccinations, they are less likely to pass it on to the adults in their lives or other high-risk children.
According to Mayo Clinic, in order to reach herd immunity, at least 70% of any population must be immune to the disease or vaccinated. Today, our population has achieved herd immunity to diseases such as the common flu by getting vaccinated so that there’s a lower risk of it being spread. Children play a crucial role in getting the United States population to that point with COVID-19, as they make up approximately one-fourth of the overall population of the U.S.
Kids also make up a large percentage of COVID-19 cases in the United States, which is another reason why it is so crucial that kids be vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 428,502 children between the ages of six months and four years have contracted COVID-19 in the United States, and almost 100 of them have died. Between the ages of 5 to 17 years, nearly 2.1 million kids have had COVID-19 out of the 30 million total, and 194 of those children have died.
The virus is still negatively impacting kids, and if the U.S. is able to successfully get them vaccinated, we will be one step closer to herd immunity, which will save the lives of hundreds of children, and adults by extension.
While many schools — locally and nationally — have begun the return to school process, vaccinating children would make adults and kids alike feel safer. “We project that high school students will very likely be able to be vaccinated by the fall term — maybe not the very first day, but certainly in the early part of the fall for that fall educational term,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci on CBS, leading us to believe that next school year, life will be returning to a more normal state.