A big question among parents and

 as more schools re-open is when their kids will be

vaccinated against COVID-19.

Some have wondered whether the vaccine is

even necessary for children.

Here is the most up to date

information based upon what doctors

know today about the risk children

face of getting and spreading the

coronavirus and when vaccines might

be available.

  *Do kids really need to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The short answer is yes. A lot of

studies have shown that COVID-19

isn’t as severe in children, particularly

younger kids — but that doesn’t mean

kids aren’t at risk of getting infected

and potentially spreading the virus.

Children under 12 who get CO-

VID-19 do tend to have mild illnesses

or no symptoms, while teenagers

seem to have responses somewhere

between what adults and younger kids

have experienced. The Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention found

that teens were about twice as likely

to be diagnosed with COVID-19 as

children ages 5-11.

It’s important to remember that

while most children get only mild

symptoms, they still face risks. At least

226 U.S. children with COVID-19

have died, and thousands have been


The key to minimizing the risk

is to make sure kids eventually get

vaccinated, follow social distancing

recommendations and wear masks.

               * Are kids spreading the virus?

In a setting like a school

where mask-wearing and social

distancing are enforced, young

kids seem to not spread the

virus very much when the rules

and guidelines are being followed. One CDC review found

little difference in community

cases in counties with elementary schools open and those

with remote learning.

If precautions aren’t being

taken, children infected with

the coronavirus very well could

spread it to adults. What isn’t

clear yet is how great that risk is.

To keep schools as safe as

possible, continuing schoolwide

mask and social distancing

policies will be important. With

teenagers in particular, mask rules

can’t hinge on whether the person

has been vaccinated or not. Until herd

immunity within the whole community

is at a good level, social distancing and masking is still going to be the recommendation.

*So, when can kids get vaccinated?

           Right now, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one in the U.S. authorized for teenagers as young as 16. Before kids

The key to minimizing COVID-19 risk is to make sure kids eventually get vaccinated, says pediatrician James B. Wood. under 16 can be vaccinated, clinical trials need to be completed in thou- sands of young volunteers to assess the vaccines’ safety and efficacy, and the results must be fully reviewed and then authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

Pfizer said it expects to submit

results from its adolescent trials for

review soon. Vaccine manufacturer

Moderna also has trials underway

with adolescents. If their vaccines are

shown to be safe and effective and

regulators authorize them, kids 12

and up could be vaccinated before

school starts in the fall.

Realistically, young children prob-

ably won’t be eligible for the vaccine

until late fall or winter at the earliest.

Moderna announced in mid-March

that it had started testing its vaccine

in children ages 6 months to 11

years. Pfizer said it is also starting

testing in young children, but these

trials take time.


* What’s different about the vaccines

kids will get?

The composition of the COVID-19

vaccines for children is the same

as used in adults — the difference is

that children may require a different


The first step in vaccine trials is to

figure out the right dose.

A rigorous system for pediatric

vaccine trials is well established

in the U.S. These trials are key to

assessing the safety and efficacy of

vaccines in children, which can differ

from adults.


* How can parents create safe play dates for kids?

When I talk to parents, I explain

that it’s a risk-versus-benefit ques-

tion. Each family has a different


From a medical standpoint, the

mental health of kids and having

them play with other kids is an

important part of childhood.

I would say that unvaccinated kids

playing indoors without masks on is

still not a great idea. The risk is just

too high at this point. As weather

warms up, I would encourage kids to

play outside. Ride bikes, play and so-

cialize — just do it in a safe manner. e@

– James B. Wood, MD is an Assis-

tant Professor of Glinical Pediat-

rics, Indiana University School of


vaccination card. Krispy Kreme, for

instance, is offering one free glazed

doughnut per day until the end of the

year to anyone who presents proof of a

Perry Flint, a spokesman for the _

COVID-19 vaccination.

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