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What to know about the COVID-19 vaccines and your kids

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 7:36 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As the vaccine rolls out in Virginia, there are older children eligible in Phase 1b, and there are trials underway right now, determining how to best vaccinate younger kids.

Right now, the vaccine is not available to kids under the age of 16, but Moderna did study teens over 18 and Pfizer fully studied kids over 16. Both found it was safe for those age groups.

“This tier does include people age 16-64 with certain medical conditions. Some of those medical conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, obesity, down syndrome, among others,” said Emily Godbout, an epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist at VCU, said.

Godbout says information about when and where to get these kids a vaccine will come out soon from the health department, but you can start talking to your pediatrician about it. For younger kids, there may be a longer wait. Dr. Godbout says immune systems work differently, and so getting research specific to their age is important.

“As far as children younger than age 12, I know some of the vaccine companies are not anticipating data for potentially not until 2022,” said Godbout.

If you’re a pregnant or nursing mom, vaccine tests were not specifically run on this group of people. But Godbout says the vaccine should not be withheld from these groups either - again, ask your doctor about your specific situation.

As a parent, Godbout says one of the best ways to keep your kids safe is by getting the vaccine yourself.

“When we receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it helps not only to protect ourselves but also our children and our communities,” said Godbout. “So it’s important that we receive the vaccine even though our children cannot receive it right now. But really at the end of the day, it will help protect them.”

Which kids can get the vaccine?

“Currently, the vaccine is not available to children under the age of 16 or 18 years of age. The initial MRNA vaccine trials focus on a specific population. For the Moderna vaccine, they study participants age 18 and up. While the Pfizer vaccine included participants age 16 and up. As of right now, the vaccine has not been fully studied in children. Currently, there are clinical studies trialing the vaccine in children as young as 12 years of age. We just don’t have the results of this study yet, but we anticipate we will have those in the future.

Why do they have to test the vaccine in children separately?

“It’s important to test the vaccine in different ages because their immune systems are different. We anticipate that the COVID-19 vaccine will be safe for children of all ages, but the bottom line is we need the data and the research to ensure this.

“As far as children younger than age 12, I know some of the vaccine companies are not anticipating data for potentially not until 2022. Supply will be provided over a number of phases.”

Are there any children in Phase 1b?

“This tier does include people age 16-64 with certain medical conditions. Some of those medical conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, obesity, down syndrome, among others...Information about when this vaccine will be available to some of our older kids will be available soon from our local health department, as well as some of our local community providers about when can these children receive a COVID vaccine.”

“I think the important thing is we need to focus on getting our educators and our teachers vaccine to make sure they are protected against COVID-19. I really want to make sure our educators and providers feel safe about receiving the vaccine, and knowing that this will help protect them.”

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