COVID-19 vaccine rollouts continue to happen throughout California for adults, but children and teens have been required to wait. Experts say that soon could change.
The nation’s top infectious diseases expert says that by fall, he expects to have data showing that children and teens aged 12 to 17 can receive their COVID-19 shots. Younger children could follow in the first quarter of 2022.
Currently, no COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use in children under the age of 16. But several vaccine makers are already testing their shots in younger teens and some pre-teens, and others have committed to doing so soon.
When will teens/young adults receive the vaccine?
Already, the Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine is approved for anyone 16 and older. So, when a vaccine is available for the general population, teens from 16-19 will be included.
“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,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Companies will start with teenagers, whose responses to the vaccine are expected to be the most like what’s been observed in young adults. Then they’ll work their way into younger and younger cohorts, all the way down to infants, said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a pediatric infectious disease vaccinologist at Stanford University.
Pfizer, which included 16- and 17-year-olds in its Phase 3 clinical trial, has now fully enrolled its trial for 12- to 15-year-olds. Younger age groups would follow.
The COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were only tested in adults; as such, they’re only authorized for use in those ages 18 and up. Like Pfizer, Moderna has begun testing its vaccine in minors, while Johnson & Johnson has committed to doing so in the first half of 2021.
Why is data important?
While researchers aren’t expecting any big surprises when it comes to the vaccine’s safety and efficacy in children, the data needs to be gathered.
“Sometimes children respond the same to vaccines as adults do but sometimes they don’t,” Maldonado said. “It’s very different for each organism, each type of disease, each vaccine — so there’s no one answer to that question, and that’s why you have to do a trial each time.”
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