by Finley Keene
"Are kids going to have to get a COVID-19 vaccine, even though they are not affected that much by the virus?"
--- Anonymous 6th Grader
That’s a great question with a complicated answer. As most of us know, there are three promising vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic that are, as of now, being delivered to front line workers and the vulnerable. The companies that make these vaccines are: Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca. Pfizer and AstraZeneca are both pharmaceutical companies, and Moderna is a biotechnology company. But as these new vaccines enter circulation, there are still many problems to sort out. First, who will get the vaccine? Even if they are approved by the FDA, adequate production and distribution will be very challenging due to high demand. Second, when will children receive it? Studies have shown that kids are less likely to become critically ill from the virus, but they can still pass the virus on, so they are a key to stopping it from spreading.
The vaccine distribution will fall in the hands of the newly elected Biden administration. They are reportedly going to tackle the virus with a very different strategy, so it is hard to predict how the distribution of the vaccine will go. There has been a recent surge of cases, and according to Dr. Anthony Fauci when interviewed by MSNBC, there may be “a wave upon waves” of coronavirus cases in the next few months. But the government will have to consider how urgently a person actually needs the vaccine, based on underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus (eg. asthma, obesity, age). Recently, Dr. Fauci has been interviewed again, and he had something to say about this. He said the COVID-19 task force hasn’t quite decided, but front line workers would definitely be first and then they´ll probably just move along the list of disabilities, the higher up including elderly, obese, and those who have breathing problems.
Although children aren't nearly as vulnerable to the virus as adults, they can be at risk if they have underlying health conditions. Also, since most children don't show symptoms, it’s hard to know if they’re infected or not and if they'll pass it on. According to Dr. Fauci when interviewed again by MSNBC, Moderna hasn't done any testing on people under 18, but Pfizer has begun to test on people as young as 12. Dr. Fauci also talked about doing a combined Phase 1 and 2a trial in which they would test a vaccine for both safety and efficacy (does it work in real life) in children in order to save time. Then they would conduct a bridging study and synthesize the adults and children’s results to find common effects. Hopefully that common effect is to cure COVID-19. If that is so, then the FDA will approve it for emergency use and it will be shipped out to the USA. So yes, kids will get the vaccine, but not anytime soon.
I hope this answers your question. I hate shots too, but it’s good for your health and the public health.