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When can children get COVID-19 vaccine? Will it be safe?

Millions of adults get vaccinated against COVID-19 within the USA every day , but trials are still underway to work out the security and effectiveness of the vaccines in children.

Moderna announced Tuesday it's given the primary doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to children under 12 years old. the corporate launched an attempt in 12- to 17-year-olds in December 2020.

“This pediatric study will help us assess the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate during this important younger age population,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said. Immunogenicity is that the ability to trigger a body's immune reaction .

A Pfizer spokesperson said the corporate finished enrolling participants for its trial with teenagers ages 12 to fifteen .

As states are pressured to send kids back to high school , parents wonder when their children are going to be ready to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s when experts expect which will happen:

When can kids get COVID-19 vaccine?

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are cleared for people 18 and older, and therefore the Pfizer vaccine is permitted for ages 16 and up.

Moderna and Pfizer have completed enrollment for studies of youngsters ages 12 and older and expect to release the info over the summer. If regulators clear the results, younger teens could start getting vaccinated once there’s enough supply.

“For kids 12 and above, i feel we’ll have a vaccine licensed before the 2021-2022 academic year ,” said Dr. Robert Frenck, director of the Gamble Vaccine research facility and PI for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital center .

There is growing evidence that teens are more likely to transmit COVID-19. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found about twice the incidence of COVID-19 among teens 12 to 17 years old than in children ages 5 to 11 from March to September 2020. 

Vaccines tend to be tested in adults, then teens, before being tried in younger children and babies, who may have lower doses or have different reactions.

Moderna has begun vaccinating younger children in its trials. A spokesperson for Pfizer said the corporate hopes to possess data from 12- to 15-year-olds within the first a part of this year and, supported those findings, could start an attempt in younger children.

Neither company confirmed a timeline, but Frenck guessed a vaccine for younger children could also be available in spring 2022, or “maybe a touch sooner.” 

J&J said the corporate is in "discussions with regulators and partners regarding the inclusion of pediatric populations," consistent with a press release sent to USA TODAY on Tuesday. 

Dr G. Paul Evans, CEO of Velocity Clinical Research, which is running trials in children ages 6 to 11 for several of the businesses , said in an email that it's going to be trickier to recruit younger children than teens, "because of the hesitation that oldsters naturally have, when considering allowing their children to require part."

But, he added, that oldsters are wanting to get their children vaccinated. "Parents don't need to stay home-schooling children and need their kids to socialize again," he said.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for kids? 

Health experts said the vaccines are likely to be as safe for teenagers as they've proved to be for adults. 

“That’s getting to be a fact," Frenck said.

More than 109 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines are administered within the USA, the CDC reported. During this point , the agency received 1,913 reports of death among people that received the vaccine but found no evidence that vaccination contributed.

The vaccines are undoubtedly safe among adults, said Dr. Cody Meissner, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Tufts Children’s Hospital, but he'd wish to see robust trials that prove safety and efficacy among adolescents and youngsters before making an identical claim. 

"Some degree of hesitancy for vaccinating children is proper," he said. "We need vaccines for youngsters because we would like to get herd immunity, there is no question. But we'd like to try to to that safely." 

Frenck said trial participants are mostly healthy without underlying medical conditions, but he hopes to expand trials to children who may have compromised immune systems by the summer. 

Are there any differences between the vaccines given to kids versus adults?

Though the composition of the vaccines might not change, the dosage might, experts said.

Teens are likely to urge an equivalent dose as adults, but children under the age of 12 could also be given a lower dose.

In younger kids, researchers may start with 1 / 4 of the regular dose, Frenck said. If things look OK, they'll plan to increase the dose therein same age bracket or move right down to subsequent age bracket . 

Younger kids may find yourself with a lower dose because their immune reaction works well against COVID-19. This isn’t the case with all vaccines. 

“If you check out the flu vaccine, we use an equivalent dose of flu vaccine during a 6-month-old as we neutralize a 64-year-old,” Frenck said.

He emphasized COVID-19 in children is worse than the flu. 

Though COVID-19 is usually mild in children, in rare cases, it can cause serious disease and even death. quite 260 children have died from the coronavirus compared with 188 children from the flu during the 2019-2020 season, consistent with data from the CDC and therefore the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

“If you compare (260) to 500,000 deaths, it’s a really small number,” Frenck said. “But these are kids that were perfectly healthy until they got COVID.”

Babies under six months aren't included within the vaccine trials, because they're generally presumed to possess some antibodies from their mother, which can provide protection but could also interact with a vaccine, potentially causing problems, said Dr. Sallie Permar, chair of pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital.

"It are going to be interesting to ascertain if there's any hint of that" quite issue with COVID-19 vaccines, she said. On the flip side, infants might find yourself needing a booster , if their mothers' antibody protection doesn't last long enough. 

She said she also think young children should tend a lower dose of the vaccine than older children or adults. In her own research with HIV, Permar said she found that "children can respond well to low-doses of protein-based vaccines."

Why couldn’t adult and pediatric trials happen at an equivalent time?
Researchers needed data from the adult trials to know a degree of safety and effectiveness before moving forward with adolescents and younger children, health experts said.

“You got to have more of a justification on why you're testing vaccines in kids,” Frenck said.

Experts said the adolescent and pediatric trials won’t take nearly as long because the adult trials because they don’t require as many participants because the Phase 3 trials in adults.

Moderna and Pfizer took months to recruit 55,000 adult volunteers for Phase 3 trials. For adolescent trials, the businesses will need about 3,000 and 2,600, respectively.

Researchers don’t want to attend for trial participants to return in touch with someone infected with COVID-19 to work out the vaccine’s efficacy, unlike the adult trials. Instead, they’ll measure children’s immune reaction and compare it with the adults'. 

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