When Will Kids Under 12 Be Able to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
(Update, effective May 6, 2022: Ochsner Health COVID-19 vaccination locations, including hospital, clinic and community sites, are halting administration of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, effective Friday, May 6, 2022. Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations, which have full FDA approval, continue to be available to patients. Ochsner’s pause on the administration of J&J was made out of an abundance of caution following guidance from the FDA, which notes very rare but potentially serious side effects.)
On May 10, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15. But when will kids under the age of 12 be eligible? Clinical trials are underway in children as young as 6 months old, and we expect in the coming months to hear more on eligibility in our younger populations. In the meantime, we want to provide you with the answers to some of your questions so you can be prepared to get your child vaccinated when the time comes.
Why has it taken longer for a vaccine to be approved for children?
A child’s immune system is different than an adult’s and must be specifically studied when given a vaccine. The vaccine had to demonstrate adequate levels of efficacy in adults before considering starting trials on children. Pfizer initially only recruited 16- and 17-year-olds for its vaccine trial for children. In October 2020, Pfizer received approval to enroll children as young as 12, and clinical trials for kids as young as 6 months are currently underway.
When can we expect kids under 12 years of age to be eligible to get the vaccine?
Clinical trials for kids as young as 6 months are currently underway. Based on those expected results, experts believe vaccines will likely be available for 5- to 11-year-olds in late 2021 and for babies over 6 months, toddlers and preschoolers in early 2022. Ochsner Health and Ochsner Hospital for Children’s contributions to the adolescent Pfizer vaccine trial (ages 12-17) have helped illustrate their safety to the FDA. Data specific to the 12- to 15-year-old group shows 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses. Ochsner will be a clinical site for the next arm of the Pfizer vaccine trial focused on ages 6 months to 11 years. Those Interested in participating in future COVID-19 research, including vaccines or treatment trials, are encouraged to reach out to COVIDvaccine@ochsner.org.
Will the vaccine be given in different dosages to young children?
The current dosage for kids between the ages of 12-17 is the same as the dosage given to adults. As clinical trials are underway for kids under the age of 12, it may be possible that a different dosage for children is recommended based on complete research from Pfizer and Moderna. However, we will have to wait and see what the data shows from the clinical trials.
Can a child who recently got other vaccinations get the COVID vaccine?
The CDC previously recommended that COVID-19 vaccines be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administering any other vaccines. This was out of an abundance of caution and not due to any known safety or immunogenicity concerns. However, substantial data has now been collected regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and the CDC states that COVID-19 vaccines may now be administered without regard to timing. This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines on the same day, as well as coadministration within 14 days.
Are there concerns that the vaccine could hinder my child’s development, cause concerns with puberty or affect my child’s future fertility?
Of the studies conducted thus far and data collected from those who have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects child development, puberty or fertility.
Where will my child be able to get the vaccine at Ochsner?
Similar to kids 12-17, Ochsner Health and Ochsner Hospital for Children will offer vaccinations to those under 12 once approved at our hospitals, retail pharmacy locations, mass vaccination sites and community vaccine events across the state. Due to the temperature and other preparation requirements to properly dispense the COVID-19 vaccine, Ochsner Hospital for Children is not currently administering the COVID-19 vaccines at pediatrician offices.
What should my child do until getting a vaccine?
In addition to receiving the vaccine once it becomes available for your child, the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is through mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene. Currently, CDC recommends that anyone not vaccinated and over the age of 2 wear a face mask in public settings.
What will this mean for school? Will my child be required to be vaccinated?
We still don’t know for sure what the requirements will be for COVID vaccinations in school settings. It will most likely be dependent on the schools and whether they are private or public. Private schools, daycares and organizations do have the ability to require vaccination. So far, many colleges have decided that vaccination will be required to attend school in person in the fall.
Ochsner and Ochsner Hospital for Children have been serving as a resource for Louisiana schools since the start of the pandemic, providing data-based guidance. We will continue to collaborate with the Louisiana Department of Education, local schools and school systems as we work toward our shared goal of fostering safe school environments during the pandemic in which every student, faculty and staff member can thrive and learn together.
Ochsner is here to help guide you
Ochsner is committed to the safety and well-being of your child and will continue to monitor any new information about the COVID-19 vaccine closely. Ochsner will only recommend and administer vaccines that the FDA has vetted for safety, effectiveness, availability and individual patient needs.
We are here as a resource to help you feel informed and empowered to make the most educated decision for you and your loved ones. If you have questions, please reach out to your pediatrician.
Learn more about the COVID vaccines: ochsner.org/vaccine.