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Status of COVID-19 Vaccines for Children

As more and more adults have received COVID-19 vaccines, eyes turn to those under 18. In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine emergency use authorization (EUA) status for those aged 12 to 15. In December, the FDA issued their original EUA for those aged 16 years and older.

In June, Moderna expects the FDA to grant their vaccine EUA for those aged 12 to 18. Last week Moderna announced that their two-dose vaccination produces the same immune response in teens as adults. This could pave the way for another vaccine administered to those aged 12 to 18, expanding the vaccine options currently available.

female health care worker administering a shot vaccination for a child

In April, Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine began the second phase of a clinical trial, specifically including those 16-17 years old. Upon the conclusion of this phase, a larger group of younger adolescents will join the clinical trials. A timeline of results has not been confirmed.

In the week that followed FDA’s emergency use authorization of Pfizer, more than half a million individuals aged 12 to 15 received their first dose. So far, more than 4.1 million adolescents – those aged 12 to 17 have received their first dose. By vaccinating this age group, experts share that we are moving closer to achieving herd immunity with a target of 70-85% of Americans vaccinated. It is estimated that 20% of the U.S. population are children aged less than a year to 17 years old. The goal of herd immunity would drastically reduce the infection rate and could potentially neutralize the virus.

As plans are made to return to in-person school in the fall, vaccinations will become a hot topic. Can your kids’ schools require vaccinations? It is possible that vaccinations against COVID-19 could be required. Most states are deferring to the individual school districts regarding vaccinations at the elementary, middle and high school levels. 

Related: Can Schools Require COVID-19 Vaccines?

For those with college-aged students, some colleges have already announced whether COVID vaccines will be required. Regardless of the age of your children, each state has a set of vaccination requirements. While no state has formally added a COVID-19 vaccination to its list of requirements, it is possible that this could occur.

If you or your child experience a reaction following a COVID-19 vaccine be sure to submit the reaction using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Contact your healthcare provider first, should you or your child need immediate medical assistance. Report the reaction in VAERS afterwards. 

If an injury occurs due to a COVID-19 vaccination, do you have legal options? Since COVID-19 vaccines are a countermeasure against this pandemic, compensation may be available through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). Injuries could be as minor as a shoulder injury or as serious as a fatal reaction. To file a claim, you only have one year from when you or your child experienced an injury related to a COVID-19 vaccination. And while this may sound like a straightforward process, prior to the pandemic CICP has denied compensation in 90% of the cases filed. Most of the filed cases were for the H1N1 flu vaccines. Seeking guidance from an attorney could help with the claim process, but CICP will not cover any legal fees.

As additional clinical trials expand to include younger children, children aged as young as six months old could eventually have a COVID-19 vaccine option. Pfizer’s vaccine may be seeking EUA in September for childrens aged 2 to 11. As Moderna expects clinical trial results by the end of 2021, those as young as 6 months old could see their turn for a COVID-19 vaccine arrive in 2022.