As more schools reopen, a big question between parents and teachers is when to vaccinate their children against COVID-19. Some people wonder if this vaccine is even necessary for children. There is news in this regard.In the press release March 31, 2021Pfizer, the vaccine manufacturer, recommends that the vaccine is as effective for children aged 12 to 15 as young people. However, the Food and Drug Administration has not yet fully released or reviewed the results of Pfizer’s vaccine trials in adolescents, which will take several weeks.
Dr James Wood, Pediatrician and Assistant Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases explained today’s doctors’ understanding of the risks of acquiring and spreading the coronavirus that children face and when vaccines are available.
Do children really need to be vaccinated against COVID-1
The short answer is yes. Many studies have shown that COVID-19 is less serious in children, especially young children-but this does not mean that children are not at risk of being infected and spreading the virus.
Children under the age of 12 who are infected with COVID-19 do have mild illness or no symptoms, while adolescents seem to react between the reactions experienced by adults and young children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that teenagers are twice as likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 as children aged 5-11.
Researchers are still trying to understand why we see these differences between older and younger children. Behavior may be part of it. Teenagers are more likely to participate in social or group activities, and they may or may not wear masks. Immune differences and biological factors may also play a role. Non-SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses are common in children and usually cause upper respiratory tract infections. Are they regularly exposed to other coronaviruses to help protect them from the severe COVID-19? This is an assumption. We know that the immune response of young children is usually different from that of adults and may play a role in protection.
It is important to remember that although most children only have mild symptoms, they are still at risk. At least 226 children with COVID-19 in the United States have died, and thousands have been hospitalized.
The key to minimizing risks is to ensure that children are eventually vaccinated, follow the advice of keeping distance from society and wear masks.
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Are the children spreading the virus?
In an environment like a school, it is required to wear masks and social isolation. When the rules and guidelines are followed, it seems that young children do not spread the virus much. A CDC review found that there is not much difference in community cases in counties with elementary schools and those with distance learning.
If preventive measures are not taken, children infected with the coronavirus may spread it well to adults. It is not yet clear how big the risk is.
In order to ensure that the school is as safe as possible, continuous school-wide masking and social isolation policies will be important. Especially for teenagers, the mask rule cannot depend on whether the person has been vaccinated. Until the cattle immunity of the entire community reaches a good level, social isolation and cover-up are still recommended.
So, when can the child be vaccinated?
Currently, Pfizer Vaccine is the only vaccine in the United States authorized for use by teenagers under the age of 16. Before children under the age of 16 can be vaccinated, clinical trials need to be completed in thousands of young volunteers to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, and the results must be fully reviewed and then by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Authorized by the Administration (FDA).
Pfizer said it hopes to submit the results of the adolescence trial to us. The vaccine manufacturer Moderna is also experimenting with teenagers. If their vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, and approved by regulatory agencies, children 12 years and older can be vaccinated before school starts in the fall.
In fact, young children may not be eligible for the vaccine until late fall or winter at the earliest. Moderna announced in mid-March that it had begun testing its vaccine in children between 6 months and 11 years of age. Pfizer said it is also testing young children, but these trials will take time.
What is the difference in the vaccines children will get?
The composition of the COVID-19 vaccine for children is the same as that used by adults-the difference is that children may require different doses.
The first step in a vaccine trial is to determine the correct dose. The two companies hope to find the lowest dose that is safe and produces the target antibody level. For example, Moderna uses a 100 mg dose in adults. It is testing three different doses for children under 2-25, 50 and 100 micrograms-two doses for children between 2 and 50 years old and 100 micrograms.
Once the company determines the optimal dose, it will initiate a placebo-controlled trial to test its effectiveness. Some of the children will receive a placebo, while others will receive the vaccine.
Now, students are farther away in many schools. The CDC recently changed its recommendation from 6 feet between K-12 school children to 3 feet, unless the community has a high rate of virus transmission.Associated Press Photo/Paradise Daily
The United States has established a strict pediatric vaccine test system. These trials are the key to assessing the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in children, and children may be different from adults.
I am optimistic about providing safe and effective vaccines for children. So far, there are no safety signals in adult or adolescent studies that worry me as a pediatrician, but the study still needs to be conducted in children.
How can parents create safe play dates for their children?
When I talked to my parents, I explained that this is a question of risk and benefit. Every family has a different tolerance.
From a medical point of view, children’s mental health and playing with other children are an important part of childhood.
What I want to say is that it is still not a good idea for unvaccinated children to play indoors without a mask. The risk at this time is too high. As the weather gets warmer, I encourage the children to play outside. Cycling, entertainment and socializing-just do it safely.
All of us have pandemic fatigue, including medical professionals. As the weather gets warmer, I think everyone just wants to get back to normal. The worst thing we can do is to go backwards again when we start to see the last light-because that will make everyone live longer.