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When will kids get the vaccine?

Infectious Diseases

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My most asked question recently is:

“When will my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?

 

Adults around the world are starting to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and many parents are wondering, ‘when will my kids get the vaccine?’

The short version is it will likely take several months before a vaccine is approved for use in kids.

The COVID-19 vaccines were created and tested in record speed, a huge scientific leap with tons of collaboration around the world.

 

Adults first, here’s why

Though we know that the vaccine works to prevent COVID-19 illness in 95% of people who receive it, the vaccine has only been tested in people older than 16 years of age. We want to prevent severe COVID-19 disease.

The process of vaccine testing involves giving the vaccine to volunteers, then watching to see if the vaccine works to create immunity (through antibodies), and evaluating if any side effects occur.

Optimal dosing is assessed.

This process was completed in adults, but children and pregnant women were not included in this testing.

Researchers will need to examine the best dosage, number of doses, and interval between doses for children before approving it for their use. It can take months or longer to do so.

We need to ensure we figure out the best dose which will provide adequate immunity and minimize side effects.

 

Why may a vaccine work differently in kids?

Children are not just small adults. Their immune systems are far different.

Children have much more robust immune systems and are therefore more prone to side effects. The doses that we give to adults may be too high for kids.

In vaccine development, we test things in adults first, work out the kinks, make sure it is safe and provides immunity, and then test in kids.

Usually, the vaccine is tested in older kids and then tested in younger kids.

Trials will investigate whether vaccinated children contract the virus and if the antibody response is similar in kids as in adults. Many infectious disease specialists think we will not likely have approval until mid to late 2021.

 

The good news is

The good news is that children seem to get infected with COVID-19 less often than adults, and when infected, have a less severe illness.

Very few children have died from COVID-19 illness.

Rarely do children develop a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), which causes inflammation in the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, and skin.

We do know that children can pass on COVID-19, even if they have no symptoms.

We know the vaccine prevents severe infection, but we do not yet know if it prevents infection in the first place.

If children do not usually get sick from the virus, and the vaccine does not prevent passing it on, there may not be much value in vaccinating all children.

Much more study is needed.

Stay safe and wishing you the best of health!

Dr. Dina Kulik

 

 

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