There has been a lot of buzz about the release of COVID-19 vaccines. Two American companies, Moderna and Pfizer, have been approved for emergency use. These first vaccines are initially being offered to a small group of frontline healthcare professionals over the age of 18, and high-risk groups such as the elderly. As production ramps up, the vaccine may next be offered to adults and older teens, likely later in 2021. Vaccination is a significant step toward stopping the spread of the pandemic.
Clinical trials in children
Before pediatric practitioners can agree that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children younger than 16 years of age, clinical trials need to be completed with volunteer patients. We cannot assume a vaccine will have the same effect on a child as it does for someone older.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect children’s health. We need more data on vaccines for our younger patients so they can be protected from this virus and so the pandemic can be controlled. The AAP will review the information after clinical trials are completed and make informed decisions about vaccine recommendations for children and adolescents. We will follow the guidelines as presented, but do not know when/if we will be able to provide this vaccine.
Will there be a vaccine before the current school year ends or will it be next school year?
Short answer –we don’t know yet. The results of the clinical trials of the vaccine in adolescents and children that are planned and being completed now will be the determining factor of the timing of vaccine availability. We think it may be possible to have a vaccine for at least some children and adolescents before the 2021-2022 school year begins. It is not likely that vaccines for children will happen during this school year.
Will a COVID-19 vaccine be required for school entry at some point?
The CDC and AAP will recommend when and how children should receive the vaccine once it is proven to be safe and effective in children through clinical trials and data, and Texas will make a decision. It is a state government decision which vaccines are required for school entry. COVID-19 vaccines may eventually become required, like MMR, or suggested, like flu vaccines.
We are looking forward to the day when children are able to receive safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for us all.