Some years from now, infants and school-aged children will probably be the mainstay of a universal vaccination program against COVID-19 in the U.S. But first, doctors want to be sure that newfangled vaccines won’t harm them.
If clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines aren’t expanded soon to include children, it’s unlikely that even kids in their teens will be vaccinated in time for the next school year.
The hurdle is that COVID vaccine makers are only in the early stages of testing their products on children. The Pfizer vaccine authorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday was greenlighted only for people ages 16 and up. Moderna just started trials for 12- to 17-year-olds for its vaccine, likely to be authorized later this month.
It will take months to approve use of the vaccines for middle- and high school-aged kids, and months more to test them in younger children. But some pediatricians say that concerns about the safety of the front-runner vaccines make the wait worthwhile.
Although most pediatricians believe the eventual vaccination of children will be crucial to subduing the COVID virus, they’re split on how fast to move toward that, says Dr. James Campbell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health. Campbell and colleagues say it’s a matter of urgency to get the vaccines tested in kids, while others want to hold off on those trials until millions of adults have been safely vaccinated.
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