Young children are now taking part in COVID vaccine trials. Pfizer announced today that they had initiated COVID vaccine testing in children younger than twelve years. Moderna announced on March 23rd that it is now testing the vaccine on children six months to eleven years.
In February, both Pfizer and Moderna had children as young as twelve years were enrolled in their COVID vaccine trials. The new trials announced this month have expanded the age groups that will be able to eventually receive the vaccine.
Currently the Moderna vaccine is approved only for individuals eighteen and older. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for teens sixteen and older.
Getting children of all ages vaccinated is a valuable step in the return to life as we used to know it. While children don’t generally get seriously ill from COVID-19, they can expose more vulnerable populations at school or home. Getting them vaccinated will also help contribute to herd immunity since they account for nearly a quarter of the US population.
Vaccine Trials Can Be A Family Affair
The Staudenmaier family, which includes two teenagers, participated in two of the vaccine trials. Saida Staudenmaier and her husband were in the Novavax trial and their children, ages 13 and 16 (pictured above), are in the Moderna trials. The parents and teens were all excited to participate.
“I felt it was important to get as many vaccines to market as quickly as possible. If I could play a part in that push, I felt I needed to do it,” Saida, who is a writer for Parentology, explains. Saida and her husband, Eric, were concerned that their children would be the last in line for vaccines, especially as data came out about teens transmitting the virus at the same rate as adults, regardless of the outcome for themselves. “I felt that the kids needed to do their part so we could get them vaccinated sooner.”
The Staudenmaier children are both interested in science and potentially becoming scientists. As Saida says, “They are data-driven people.” So the family discussed the clinical trials, the time commitment, and the health risk/benefit of participating. “It wasn’t really a question for them. They were motivated by their desire to help protect others.”
The teens and their dad all received the actual vaccine. Saida received the placebo, but has since gotten the actual vaccine.
“As we look to the summer, the children are excited to attend camp, travel to see their grandparents, and for our 16-year-old, looking at colleges.”
Safeguards Still Play Critical Role
While everyone is anxious to return to normal it will take time before we can abandon things like masks and social distancing.
“Vaccines are not going to eliminate asymptomatic infections entirely and will not reduce transmission entirely. It is important for children to continue wearing masks, practicing distancing, and maintaining hygiene measures following vaccination in order to ensure the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control,” Dr. Chelsea Johnson MD, FAAP tells Parentology. Dr. Johnson is a skilled pediatrician with over twenty years of experience. She was previously at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas and is currently K-Health’s pediatric lead.
Children With Special Considerations
“There is still a lot to learn about these vaccines, so if your child has ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends that you should not get that specific vaccine. If they’ve had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies, you should ask your doctor before getting a COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Johnson cautions.