TAMPA, Fla. — While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to show signs of waning in the United States, a large question remains for parents as they try to return children to a semblance of normality: when will a COVID-19 vaccine be available for all children?
So far, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for usage in people as young as 12 years old. However, that leaves all children below approximately seventh grade as unvaccinated heading into the summer camp season and later into the start of school in the fall. But some help may be on the way.
Stanford University said it is serving as a site of the Phase 2-3 trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children 5-11 years old. The university said it was also the site of a Phase 1 trial to determine the appropriate dose of the vaccine for children aged six months to five years old, which is already underway at the school.
The Pfizer vaccine phase 2-3 trials for children 5-11 years old are expected to begin any day now with all the trials having more than enough patients ready. The company said in an earnings call in early May they may request Emergency Use Authorization for ages two to 11 by September and then ask for a separate EUA for ages six months to two years in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The good news for parents is Pfizer isn’t alone in testing their COVID-19 vaccine in children.
In March, Moderna announced it had given initial doses of its vaccine in a Phase 2/3 study called KidCOVE. The company said the current study is in children ages 6 months to less than 12 years old and is being conducted in conjunction with multiple U.S. government agencies including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Yale University is also helping with the Moderna study which is being conducted at 90 sites across the U.S. and Canada and includes more than 6,700 children.
Getting children and adolescents vaccinated continues to be a top priority for health experts. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, as recently as late April, children made up 22.4 percent of new cases of COVID and that share has been growing. Overall, the AAP said more than 3.78 million children have been infected with COVID-19 and at least 303 have died from the disease.
Until those vaccines become available though, the medical community continues to encourage mask usage among children. The CDC recommends masks for children two and older in public settings and when with people outside their household. Masks are also still advised in school for the current school year. The CDC said further guidance on masks and schools for the fall will be released at a later date.