Right now, the Pfizer vaccine is approved for anyone 16 and older and the Moderna vaccine is for people 18 and older. But clinical trials are underway to study if the vaccines are effective in younger kids.
“A lot of those trials are just beginning so they're just a few weeks in vaccinating children. It’s going to be a number of months probably before we have data on children,” Dr. David Priest with Novant Health said.
In most cases, kids don't get as sick as adults do from COVID-19 but because they make up a big part of the population, getting them vaccinated could help move us toward herd immunity.
“To achieve true herd immunity, we’ll need to do it through the vaccine,” Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC physician, said.
Moderna is still recruiting kids 12 to 17 for its clinical trials but Pfizers’ trials for kids 12 to 15 are full.
A trial in adolescents is ongoing at Duke University. Pediatrician Dr. Richard Chung and his wife decided to enroll their 7th-grade son Caleb in the trial. Kids will get two shots and the same dose as adults.
“Kids are not the same as adults, so we can't really assume which is why we do the trials, but at least, as a physician, I felt positive about at least that initial data,” Dr. Chung said.
Kids typically don't have the most serious cases of COVID-19 but can spread it.
“You can say it may not be necessary because children do very, very well. They don't seem to spread it in the context of school, even though when you do have serious outbreaks, children are involved," Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. So, you would like to vaccinate as many children as you can."
So far, vaccine rollout has been slow, and the shots have been difficult to access for some. If approved for children, the supply would have to grow to meet the already overwhelming need.
But shots can be scary for kids, starting the conversation now could help. Dr. Mary Mason, the creator of Little Medical School, a company offering hands-on interactive programs that educate about medical science.
“You want to give kids a platform to discuss their fears and you want to empower them with knowledge," Mason said. "If you can teach them the mechanics behind it, it’s much easier for them to really understand this is science and they shouldn't have to fear the unknown."
Getting children vaccinated is still several months away, Dr. Fauci expects it could happen by the summer.