Vaccine trials for young children underway
Many are wondering when children under the age of 16 will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines, and according to the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, this will likely happen in late 2021 or early 2022.
Children aged 16 and up have already been cleared to be vaccinated, and during a recent interview, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said it's likely that by fall, data will reveal whether or not their younger (12 years of age and up) counterparts can be vaccinated.
Fauci added that younger children may follow in the first quarter of 2022.
Pfizer and Moderna both have completed enrollment for studies of children ages 12-16, and expect to release the data over the summer, according to the LA Times.
If regulators clear the results, younger teens likewise could start getting vaccinated once supply allows, the news outlet goes on to say.
The reason researchers started with older children is because this portion of the young population tends to respond to vaccines most similarly to adults. Testing even younger groups is a more complex process as young children may require a different dose or present differing responses.
Health experts note that children develop serious illness or die from COVID-19 at much lower rates than adults, but can still spread the virus.
“There’s no question: we do want to immunize children,” said Drexel University pediatrics professor Dr. Sarah Long.
“It’s unlikely we could get community protection without immunizing children,” Long continued. “This is the lynchpin to getting everything back to some kind of normalcy.”
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