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VACCINE TEAM | Q&A on when children could get their COVID-19 shots

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 5:20 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As we continue to watch vaccines roll out across Kentucky, we are here to answer your questions.

When will COVID-19 vaccines be available for children?

There’s some promising news on that front so we are breaking the latest down by age group.

Children 12 and older: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for young adults age 12 and older by next week, setting up shots for many before the beginning of the next school year. Currently, the youngest age approved for use of the Pfizer vaccine is 16.

“In the last month or so we have seen Pfizer release some really exciting data in the 12- to 15-year age group from their clinical trial that showed the vaccine to be highly effective — 100% effective in that trial — and very well-tolerated in that age group without any serious side effects,” says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic pediatric infectious diseases specialist.

The FDA action would be followed by a meeting of a federal vaccine advisory committee to discuss whether to recommend the shot for 12- to 15-year-olds. Then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would act on the committee’s recommendation. Those steps could be completed in a matter of days.

“I think in the pediatric community, we’re all really hopeful that this happens before the start of the next school year because vaccination would be a really great additional preventive measure that we can use in schools to help keep our kids and teachers safe,” Dr. Rajapakse said.

Children 6 months to 11 years old: Moderna and Pfizer are studying their COVID-19 vaccines on children 6 months to 11 years old. Researchers hope to have enough data to enable kids in this age group to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by the beginning of 2022, according to the Mayo Clinic.

For the youngest children, it may take a little longer because of the challenge of figuring out the optimal dose. Researchers are first enrolling the older age group, 5 to 11 years, before the younger age group, 2 to 5 years, and then infants, 6 months to 2 years.

Don’t expect approval for all those age groups to happen at the same time. The Mayor Clinic says Pfizer announced that the first results for children 5–11 could be available by July and younger children by September.

“It’ll be some time before we have preliminary results from those trials. So hopefully, toward the end of this year, we might be hearing back on some of that data. And most projections say, best case scenario — maybe by early 2022 — we might be able to have a vaccine for that age group,” says Dr. Rajapakse.

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