It’s been just over two months since the FDA authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. There are currently two vaccines approved for use in the USA. However, neither is approved for use in children. So, when will kids be able to get the COVID vaccine?
Here’s what we know.
Children do not typically get seriously ill when they contract the virus. However, they can transmit the virus to grandparents and others who are more vulnerable. Vaccinating them will be an essential step in achieving herd immunity.
Is The Vaccine Safe For Children?
The Pfizer vaccine is approved for individuals as young as 16 years. The Moderna is only approved for use in those 18 years and older. Pfizer has over 2000 children 12 to 15 years old enrolled in their trial. Moderna has also started testing the vaccine in children 12 years and older.
Both companies are looking to see if the vaccines are safe for this age group, as well as whether there are any potential side effects. Additionally, they will be looking at the strength of the immune response the vaccine stimulates.
The clinical trials will start to include children in progressively younger age groups. This means that age groups will be approved as opposed to all children being able to get the vaccine at the same time.
COVID Vaccine and DNA Concerns
Some people in the public have expressed concern that the vaccine can change a person’s DNA. This is inaccurate. Both approved vaccines use mRNA or messenger RNA.
“Messenger RNA is a set of instructions that tells your cell’s ribosomes how to make a specific protein. mRNA cannot insert itself into DNA. It doesn’t do anything to change your genetic structure,” Dr. Samantha Radford of Evidence-Based Mommy tells Parentology. Radford has her Ph.D. in Chemistry with a focus in Public Health and is an expert in this area.
“With the mRNA COVID vaccines, the mRNA segment codes instructions for the spike protein on the envelope of the virus,” she explains. “Once your ribosomes make this spike protein, your immune system attacks it. This teaches your immune system how to recognize the COVID virus without ever having to be exposed to it.”
When Are Children Expected To Get The Vaccine?
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the Biden administration, was quoted as saying it is possible that children as young as first-graders could be vaccinated by the fall of this year, in time for the new school year.
Should All Children Get The Vaccine?
Not all children will be able to be vaccinated. Current contraindications (which means, a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a treatment due to the harm that it would cause the patient) to receiving the vaccine include experiencing a severe allergic reaction to any ingredients of the vaccine. Another contraindication would be having a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine. However, even one dose provides some protection.
Some parents are anxious for their children to be vaccinated, while others may feel some hesitation. Radford urges parents to get their children vaccinated.
“The sooner we can get a large segment of the population vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to normal lives – regular school, play dates, and all those things our kids need to thrive.”