But an important group is missing: children.
While two vaccines are expected to clear soon For adult use in the US, testing is only now beginning with children, and only adolescents. There are still many unknowns.
As a pharmacist and professor of infectious diseases who helps manage hospitalized Covid-19 patients, I frequently hear questions about vaccines. Here’s what we know and don’t know in response to some common questions about vaccinating children against Covid-19.
1. When can my child be vaccinated?
Right now it seems unlikely that a vaccine will be ready for children before the start of the next school year in August.
Trials in adults of the two major vaccines have had promising results. On December 10, the US Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccine Advisory Committee. recommended The FDA authorizes the use of Pfizer’s vaccine in people over 16 years of age, although there were some concerns about including 16 and 17 year olds without further information. The British government is already vaccinate people over 16 years of age with that, and Canada has authorized the vaccine for the same age range.
But clinical trials with children are just beginning.
Pfizer, in collaboration with Germany’s BioNTech, expanded its Covid-19 vaccine trials for children over 12 years only in october. The other leading vaccine manufacturer, Moderna, announced on December 2 that he planned to soon begin trials of the Covid-19 vaccine in children ages 12 to 17.
The efficacy and safety of the vaccine will need to be evaluated for each age group, and testing has not begun for infants, toddlers, or children in the United States.
Clinical trials are designed to ensure that the vaccine is safe and effective. Normally, it takes 10 to 15 years from the start of development until the vaccine is licensed, but Covid-19 vaccines are being developed Faster in response to the pandemic.
2. Will children need more vaccines than adults?
It doesn’t seem like the Covid-19 vaccine dose schedule is different for children, but that could change as testing progresses.
Pfizer’s vaccine is being tested in adolescents with a two-dose series, three weeks apart, just as it is in adults. Moderna also plans to use her adult program, two doses four weeks apart, at an upcoming trial with 3,000 adolescents.
The second dose serves as a “booster shot,” since the first dose alone does not provide optimal immunity. This is consistent with various other vaccines, including hepatitis B, measles, mumps, and rubella.
At this time, only those two doses are planned, but that could change. It is not clear how long the immune response of these Covid-19 vaccines will last or if more doses will be needed in the future. The flu vaccine, for example, requires a new dose each year because the virus changes. Recent promising Moderna data indicate that immunity is maintained for at least three months after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
3. Are vaccines safe for children?
So far, no serious safety issues have been identified with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, but trials are still in the early stages for children. Various other vaccines are also being developed around the world, and some drug companies have started trials with younger children in other countries.
Another concern has been temporary side effects.
Children tend to have stronger immune systems than adults and may have stronger temporary reactions to the vaccine. That could mean more pain and swelling at the injection site for a few days and possibly a fever.
Those side effects are common with vaccines. Are evidence that the immune system you’re doing what you should be doing, but they can be scary.
It is important to understand both the safety of the vaccine and the likelihood of temporary side effects, because adults and children will need both doses for the vaccine to provide optimal immunity.
4. Is it enough to vaccinate adults?
Just vaccinating adults would not be enough to end the pandemic. Children can still become infected, pass the virus, and develop complications. If a vaccine is not available, children are likely to serve as virus reservoir, making it difficult to end the pandemic.
Both leading vaccines have reported promising results in adults so far – the efficacy rate is approximately 94% for Moderna’s vaccine and 95% for Pfizer’s. That means that, under the best conditions, about 95% of adults who receive the vaccine are protected. That is higher than expected.
It remains to be seen if the same applies to children.
Children tend to have milder Covid-19 symptoms than adults, but can still transmit the virus to others.
Getting the vaccine also comes with other benefits, including allowing a safer return to schools and activities.
5. Do we have to keep wearing masks and social distancing?
In the meantime, it will be important to continue with standard preventive measures, which include social distancing, wearing masks, wash hands and follow other guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the hope is that a vaccine will allow people to return to a more “normal” way of life, these preventive measures will still be necessary, even after receiving the vaccine. until more information is known on the degree of protection of the vaccine.
There are still many unanswered questions. As time goes by, we will have more answers.
Wesley Kufel is a clinical assistant professor in pharmacy practice at Binghamton University, SUNY
This article is republished from The conversation, a non-profit news organization dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.