While current guidelines recommend most adults receive the COVID-19 vaccination once made available to them, parents are looking for guidance on when children can expect to be vaccinated against coronavirus.
“It probably won’t be until the summer before children get a vaccine, if then,” said Dr. Beth Orlowski, chief of pediatrics for Rochester Regional Health’s Newark-Wayne Community Hospital. “It will likely be a while before younger kids can get this vaccine.”
Pfizer began testing in October in children as young as 12. Testing is expected to take several more months and will be up to the FDA will decide when there’s enough data to allow emergency use in this age group. Moderna has begun enrolling study participants ranging in age from 12-17 and will track them for a year. Dr. Orlowski recommends parents begin talking to their kids about the vaccine.
“If you’re willing to sign your child up, talk to your 12-year-old or older about what they would be doing, how they’d be helping science, helping the population, the elderly, and everyone else by being involved in these studies,” Dr. Orlowski said. “But I wouldn’t go into it lightly. I would make sure you research what’s expected of you and understand the common side effects of that vaccine.”
As of Dec. 17, the number of children nationwide who have tested positive represents 12.3% of the 14.7 million cases in the country. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that more than 1.8 million children have tested positive since the start of the pandemic.
Although children are currently ineligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, there is still a way for parents to help keep them healthy.
“Parents should get the vaccine as soon as it’s available to them,” said Dr. Orlowski.
As a parent, getting the vaccine not only protects yourself, but it helps protect your children and the rest of your family. Since children cannot be vaccinated at this time, it’s important for parents to do everything they can to keep their families healthy. Parents and families should also continue to social distance, practice hand hygiene, avoid large gatherings and wear a mask outside of the home.
In addition to personal protection, getting the COVID-19 vaccine helps contribute towards herd immunity, which is achieved when enough people are immune to a virus so the virus can no longer spread.
While it may be some time before children can be given the vaccine, it’s still important to keep up with regular pediatrician and specialist appointments, and to continue routine immunization.
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