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
*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
* 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 _