COVID-19 vaccine for children is essential for herd immunity.
Achieving group immunity is not possible without a COVID-19 vaccine for children . This puts a big dent in group immunity efforts, as children under the age of 18 make up about 22% of the US population. Experts estimate that the required threshold of immunity to the coronavirus requires between 70-90% of the entire population vaccinated. This means that children must be vaccinated to achieve this balance.
COVID-19 also affects children
In addition, more than 13.500 children developed coronavirus infections as of March 2021. In addition to that number, more than 260 children died. Unfortunately, vaccines available for adults are not yet to be approved for use by children. Separate test results for the age group are required to receive FDA approval. While drug manufacturers such as Pfizer and Moderna have already begun clinical trials for children, the results will take months to complete and analyze.
Octavio Ramilo, chief of infectious diseases at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, agrees that children should be vaccinated earlier. “We definitely need to get children vaccinated if we want to get back to the“ old ”normal,” he said. In addition, group immunity will not occur unless children are also protected from COVID-19. "It's hard to talk in terms of numbers (immunity) if you're not going to vaccinate children," said Adam Ratner, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital in New York.
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Testing for COVID-19 Vaccines for Children Ongoing
Currently, only Americans 16 and older can receive vaccines from Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson only allow vaccinations for people 18 and older. Meanwhile, the UK and the EU have approved AstraZeneca and Oxford University vaccines for adults aged 18 and over.
Last Thursday, Pfizer said it has started vaccine trials for children 6 months to 11 years old. More than 2000 children, ages 12 to 15, took part in one study.
Now I ask myself, what kind of parents make their children available for this? And are these children still under the guardianship of their biological parents?
The company expects results in the coming weeks. If the numbers are right and the vaccine has proven effective, Pfizer will submit the data to the FDA and apply for an emergency use license. In the meantime, Moderna announced that they hope their vaccine will be available to adolescents in time for the opening of the 2021 school year. Moderna has also recently started a separate trial for children from six months of age. In addition, the University of Oxford will initiate trials in children aged 6 to 17 years of the vaccine developed with AstraZeneca.
Faster Tests for COVID-19 Vaccines for Children?
Unlike the previous studies where efficacy took center stage, the children's studies will focus on safety and immune response. If the results of the studies show that enrolled children showed a similar immune response to adults, then efficacy is likely to show the same results as adults.
This does not mean that the vaccines will be ready anytime soon and maybe even this year. COVID-19 vaccines for children will most likely appear in early 2022. Health experts think researchers should test lower doses, which means more time to analyze.
"The dose isn't that big of a jump to go from adults to teens," said Katherine Luzuriaga, a pediatric infectious disease physician. Luzuriaga is also the lead investigator of Moderna's adolescent study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School site. “Once we move into the younger age groups, there is a little more work to determine the right dose,” she said.
Katherine Luzuriaga, one doctor for pediatric infectious diseases. Luzuriaga is ook the lead investigator of Moderna's Adolescent Study
COVID-19 is milder for most children
Children infected with Covid-19 experience mostly mild symptoms, but usually recover. However, they can in rare cases continue to become seriously ill and transmit the virus to others. Until the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for children, health authorities say children can safely resume certain activities, such as face-to-face learning in schools that take precautions. In addition, some experts warn against focusing too strongly on a specific target for the group's immunity. Building population protection is an incremental process.