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Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for kids? A Charlotte doctor weighs in

“It’s not unreasonable to think that in the latter half of 2021 we could potentially have a vaccine for children."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — COVID-19 vaccine trials for kids are ramping up. Moderna, whose trial will include children as young as 12 is currently enrolling trial participants, while Pfizer said their trial, which will include children as young as 15, is already fully enrolled.

So, with a COVID-19 vaccine for children possible by year’s end, WCNC Charlotte reached out to Dr. Niraj Patel, a Pediatric infectious disease and immunology doctor at Levine Children's. Patel also serves as the chair for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force.

He said it’s impossible to know for sure when or if the vaccine will be authorized, but said it could come this year.

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“It’s not unreasonable to think that in the latter half of 2021 we could potentially have a vaccine for children,” Patel said.

Like so many others, Patel's eager to see the results of the trials, which will test the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness in children. If proven safe, Patel said he’ll recommend that kids get the vaccine, saying it will be their best protection against the virus.

“Even though a smaller percentage of kids get sick, we know that there have been deaths reported in children due to COVID,” Patel said. “We also know there is another entity called multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) that is particularly prevalent among children and it can include children who require intensive care unit, and hospitalization.”

Patel said data shows children do pass COVID-19, and with many kids back inside schools, he believes vaccinating kids will put more parents and school staff at ease.  

In preparation for a vaccine getting approved for children, Patel said Levine Children’s has already begun planning and working to identify which children would receive priority.

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“In general, those would include children with immune deficiencies or receiving immune suppressive medications, obesity has been a risk factor we’ve seen, high blood pressure,” he said. 

Of the most common questions Patel said he’s been receiving from parents, is should children with allergies receive the vaccine?

He said the trials in children will provide the answer, but said so far, the data suggests yes.

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.

“Even adults who are severely allergic to foods, or to medications, or to stinging insects are no more at risk of getting an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine than the general population,” he said. “While the data is not yet out there, it is likely that children who have allergies to food and medications and other things will most likely be eligible to get the vaccine.”

In some circumstances, however, Patel said he would advise against the vaccine.

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“Children who should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine would be children who have a history of allergies to any of the components of the vaccine,” he said.

He also said children who experience an allergic reaction after receiving a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, should not receive a second dose.

In the meantime, as the world awaits it’s first vaccine for children Patel is recommending parents make sure their kids are up-to-date on current vaccinations, saying vaccines play a major role in keeping kids healthy.

So far more than 27 million Americans have been vaccinated and kids could soon be next.

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