On December 14, 2020, Americans got their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the CDC symptoms guidelines, healthcare workers were among the first group of people who received the shots followed by older adults living in nursing care facilities.
As of now, more than 134 million shots of the vaccine have been given to people in different parts of the world. Over the coming months, we can expect the number to grow further, but what about people under age 16?
Why do they have to wait? When can they expect the COVID vaccine? Find out the answers to these questions below.
Why Do Kids Have to Wait?
As per CDC guidelines, healthcare workers get the doses of the approved vaccines first (Phase 1a). Next on the list are adults 75 years and older (Phase 1b) ) and then persons 65 and older and people with high-risk health conditions (phase 1c). But where does that leave a healthy adult and also children?
Kids have to Wait for the vaccine for Two Reasons
Unlike adults, the symptoms most children get are mild. While more than a million kids have been infected by the virus and a few deaths have been reported, the disease is not likely to cause severe symptoms among them.
Some real-life examples of COVID-19-infected children experienced by the author have been a three-year-old child who caught a mild cold for 24 hours, then was fine, and a 17-year-old who had no symptoms and is now COVID-free.
Due to this reason, children are among the least needy group of people who need immunity against the disease. As a result, the U.S. and most of the other countries prioritize people with the highest risk of acquiring a very severe infection or even dying from the virus.
Despite mild infections and less likelihood of complications, children of all ages still need a vaccine. Without immunization, they can still spread the disease to their parents, teachers or other adults, including the high-risk category of folks such as grandparents. However, children were never part of the trials for the coronavirus vaccine.
COVID-19 is still relatively new and there is a lot more that needs to be learned. Moreover, vaccine formation is usually a long and complicated process. With the vaccine available now, safety is still a concern for people of all ages.
Pediatric research requires a higher safety bar and any new treatment must be at least as safe for children as it is for adults. Since this vaccine’s safety for adults is still under observation, how the COVID-19 vaccine will affect kids under 16 is still a question. Due to this very reason, many kids and their parents are reluctant to participate in a vaccine trial.
Without enough research and trial participants, the COVID-19 vaccine is likely to remain unavailable for kids at least for a few more months.
COVID-19 Vaccine for Teenagers
The vaccine is considered safe for healthy teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18. However, according to the CDC guidelines, most teens between 16 and 18 will not receive the immunization in the first several months of distribution. Again, young adults and teens are less likely to become seriously ill when infected with COVID-19. With that said, this age group will certainly have access to the vaccine in a few months with a priority to teenagers with underlying health conditions.
When Will the COVID-19 Vaccine Be Available to Kids Under 16?
The three big pharmaceutical giants, Pzifer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca are looking forward to enough safety and effectiveness data from their clinical trials in adults in the next few months. The data will prove the effectiveness as well as the safety of the vaccine.
Once the results are available and support the drug’s effectiveness, the drug companies predict that their vaccines could be authorized among younger teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17-year-olds. Pfizer is currently researching the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine among children over age 12.
However, these are relatively recent developments. Similarly, Moderna will start testing its vaccine on kids. However, they still need more participants. The delay in testing kids for the vaccine means it could still be several months before the FDA-approved vaccinations for children under 16.
Lastly, for kids younger than 12 years of age, it is still a long way to go as none of these vaccines are ready for kids.
COVID-19 Vaccine and Educational Inactivity
The educational system has suffered dramatically due to the pandemic, and children’s academic and social development have experienced a significant setback. With the COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 16, we can hope and look forward to an educational system that is safe for conducive learning.
Once a vaccine shows its safety and effectiveness for children, the concerned health authorities in the U.S. and other parts of the world can approve the vaccine. However, as of now, no state can set a policy of mandatory vaccination before kids can return to school.
Regardless of state policy for immunization among kids under 16, one thing is sure: We look forward to the day when children can safely return to school and get started with their social activities with minimal risk of disease transmission.
COVID-19 was never there before, and there is still so much to learn about the virus and its ever-changing strains. Moreover, no vaccine in the history of medical science has been created in months, so there are still many questions and concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
While it is true that it could save hundreds and thousands of lives every week, its effectiveness for kids is still not known. Since COVID-19 affects kids and adults differently, it is essential to understand whether a vaccine might work equally well for people of all ages. Immunizing kids is still important to control and end the pandemic, but they will be unable to get the vaccine until its safety has been verified for the particular age group.