Among the questions about vaccinations that we’re hearing is one with a simple answer:
Q: Is there a COVID-19 vaccination for kids?
The current vaccines are approved for ages 16 and up or age 18 and up.
Why isn’t a COVID-19 vaccination for kids available?
The procedure for making vaccines available is complicated and follows strict rules. This is very important. It helps make sure that vaccines are both safe and effective.
Even though the COVID-19 vaccination development process has been fast, the vaccines have been tested thoroughly on adults.
They have not yet been thoroughly tested with children.
Kids are different from adults. Their immune systems are different and they can react differently to substances than adults do. It isn’t possible to generalize from adult trials of the vaccine to children.
How can a vaccine for children be developed?
The approved vaccines have been tested to make sure that they are effective — that they actually make it less likely that vaccinated people will catch the virus.
They have also been tested to make sure that they are safe. Side effects or allergies can always occur, but it’s essential to know what kinds of effects the vaccines have. It takes time to get this information.
Moderna’s vaccine has just begun to be tested on children ages 12 to 17. Pfizer has also been working with 12-year-olds for a few months. The process can be lengthy. These trials include thousands of children.
Once vaccines have been tested on these adolescents and found safe and effective, they can move on to elementary age kids. Then the youngest kids can be tested. This is the normal process for developing vaccines.
During this process, we will continue to learn more about the vaccines’ effects and effectiveness for adults. At this point, for example, we don’t know whether the vaccines will protect people for many years, because the vaccines haven’t existed that long.
We don’t even know if COVID-19 will continue to be a threat to public health for many years.
As scientists gather more knowledge about the vaccines for adults, they will be able to use this information to improve vaccine testing for kids.
When will a children’s COVID-19 vaccine be available?
While health professionals agree that a vaccine for kids should become available, children are not the first ones who need the vaccine. Front-line health workers, elderly people, and other high-risk groups are the first groups to receive the vaccine.
Most cases of COVID-19 in children are mild, and there are fewer cases overall among children — only 3% of hospitalizations so far have been among children. This doesn’t mean that kids are lower priority, but it does mean that vaccines won’t go to children first.
It’s also very important to provide vaccines for the people who take care of children, such as teachers and child care workers. This is essential for kids’ health and safety.
And of course, once the vaccine is approved for children, it will still need to manufactured, packaged, and distributed.
These factors mean that vaccines for kids will be available in the future. The 2021 school year is an optimistic goal.
However, no one knows right now how long it will be until COVID-19 vaccines are available for children. Keep up with news on COVID-19 vaccinations at this website and on MANA social media.
What can I do to protect my children from COVID-19?
To protect your children, plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to you and encourage other adults who are around your child to do the same. We now have several tools to protect against COVID-19. Wearing masks in public has proven to be very effective in preventing the spread of the virus. Staying 6-feet apart from people outside the household, avoiding gatherings, and washing hands are other tools we will continue to use to fight COVID-19.