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Researchers focus on getting COVID-19 vaccine approved for children under 12 as cases spike

Colin Sweeney, Nicole Sweeney
Posted at 7:04 AM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 12:45:46-04

TAMPA, Fla.  — “The vaccine is really just crucial to them in terms of keeping them safe,” said Dr. Laura Arline, Chief Quality Officer for BayCare Health System.

The focus for researchers right now is getting a COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12, as we see more kids being hospitalized with the virus than we have before.

“That age group is thought to be a critical age group for the children in terms of reaching herd immunity,” said Arline.

Currently, both Pfizer and Moderna have clinical trials for kids under 12.

“They’re still actually taking participants so those studies are ongoing right now,” said Arline.

Recently the FDA asked the two pharmaceutical companies to double the number of children ages five to 11 in clinical trials as well as for six months of follow-up safety data instead of the two months the FDA asked for with adults.

“Once they have enough participants to be able to feel sure that they are capturing any potential circumstance for a rare side effect, then they’ll be able to conclude, look at the data, conclude the study and then that data would be sent to the CDC and the FDA for review,” said Arline.

While children dying from COVID-19 in still rare, adolescent cases are quickly growing and without a vaccine they remain vulnerable.

Especially now that thousands of kids are back in school across the Tampa Bay area, with a big potential for spread.

“They’re in classrooms and tight quarters with groups together and the younger you get with age groups, they don’t tend to socially distance very well. So, they play very close to one another,” said Arline.

Doctors say it’s promising to see so much effort to get this vaccine approved.

“The kids are often one of the latter groups to be looked at in terms of vaccine and in general medication safety and so it’s really lovely that that group is now a focus group and we’re very close to being able to have a vaccine that’s safe and effective for children. All the way, they’re looking all the way down to six months,” said Arline.

Experts say they’re hoping see Pfizer submit more data by the end of September, and expect Modera to have more data for the FDA at the beginning of next year.