If you’ve been holding your breath in anticipation of an updated timeline for COVID-19 vaccines for kids under age 12, you can let it out now: We’ve got news.
By: Jessica D’Argenio Waller, MS, CNS, LDN
For kids ages 12 to 15, shots became available in May 2021 after the vaccine-maker applied to the FDA for emergency use authorizationin April. Given that timeline as a model, we can hopefully expect shots to be available for kids ages 5 to 11 sometime in October.
“We’re hoping to have authorization—depending on both results and, of course, a few decisions—not too long after the school year starts,” Dr. Phil Dormitzer, chief scientific officer for viral vaccines at Pfizer, told NPR.
Vaccine safety data for kids under 5 is coming soon, too
Pfizer has also shared that the data for children between the ages of 2 and 5 should be available shortly after the data is collected for kids ages 5 to 11. They expect data on kids ages 6 months to 2 years to be available by year-end.
Moderna, the maker of another mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, is also collecting data on its use of the vaccine in children between the ages of 6 and 11. Currently, the Moderna vaccine is only available to people over the age of 18, but Moderna hopes to apply for emergency use authorization for ages 6 to 11 by year-end, as well.
Cases are increasing among children
With approximately 50 million children under 12 in the U.S., that’s a significant portion of the population walking around unvaccinated. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children now make up 18% of COVID cases. And given the fact that the Delta variant now makes up 98.8% of COVID cases and is more than twice as contagious as previous strains, time is of the essence in getting shots in kids’ arms.
Because so many children are ineligible for the vaccine, we’re seeing pediatric cases—and hospitalizations—rising across the country. Currently, the best tool we have for fending off infections is to have as many adults and teens get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Hold on a little longer
With school already in session for thousands of kids across the country, the timing isn’t great—but stay hopeful. It’s also important to remember that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots spaced three or four weeks apart, and that immunity isn’t fully built up until two weeks after the second shot. If shots become available for the 5 to 11 age group in October, that could mean many kids would have full immunity by Thanksgiving—something to be thankful for, indeed.
In the meantime, keeping up with kids’ masking, hand-washing, social distancing and frequent testing can help curb the spread, plus encouraging vaccination for any and all teens and adults in your orbit.