COVID-19 is infecting more children now because of the high transmission rate of the Delta variant. However, children below 12 years old remain ineligible for the vaccines. The research by companies making vaccines has not concluded yet that is why there is no definite time yet as to when children below 12 can be vaccinated.
More parents are getting anxious regarding the safety of their children, especially because kids made up nearly a quarter of the reported COVID-19 cases for the week ending on August 26.
On Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that the numbers had increased significantly in the past days and in levels that health officials haven’t seen since last winter. Hospitalizations and deaths for children were rare at the beginning of the pandemic, but in COVID-19 hotspots around the United States, children’s hospitals are now filling up with virus cases.
Despite the current trend in COVID-19 cases, children’s vaccines will not yet be available anytime soon. The process is taking longer than initially expected because they do not have the necessary trial data yet, CNN reported. Dr. Emily Chapman, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Children’s Minnesota, shared, “We had really hoped that maybe we would have something in place before we tried to bring kids back into the school classroom, but, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do that.”
Pfizer was the first to start trials to determine the data necessary for the youngest age group hoping to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Moderna’s trial is also underway, while Johnson & Johnson is expected to start this fall.
Once the trial data is available, vaccine companies will submit the information to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Once the FDA gets the data, they will assess the vaccines for authorization. One of the biggest vaccines companies, Pfizer, said through Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner who now sits on the board of Pfizer, that they expect to submit data by September. If their timeline does not change, they will then apply for emergency vaccine use for such age group as early as October.
From the time that the application for emergency use is filed, there is no official period when the FDA will approve it. Usually, emergency use considerations are determined for several weeks. Although there is no specific time frame, Dr. Stanley Perlman, who is on the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee and is also a pediatrician and professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa Health Care, said that although they want it done as soon as possible, they still want it to be done right.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, hopes that vaccines for younger children will be released before Thanksgiving.