Originally posted January 18, 2021; most recently updated March 24, 2021
Q: Should children get the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Children were not included in the initial phase 3 trials and there is currently no approved vaccine for children under 16 years. The Pfizer vaccine is FDA-approved for patients 16 years and older, while the Moderna vaccine is FDA-approved for patients 18 years and older. Trials including children aged 12-17 are ongoing.
While children are less likely to develop severe disease and die from COVID-19, there are several reasons for ensuring there is a vaccine safe for children. Although rare, some children may develop severe disease or die from COVID-19. Children have also developed a severe inflammatory syndrome, called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, associated with the virus. Further, children may be important transmitters of SARS-CoV-2 and vaccinating them could be important in controlling the pandemic. Finally, having a safe vaccine for children will build confidence toward opening up schools and learning centers for in-person education.
Q: Will there be a vaccine available for children before the 2021-22 school year?
A: This will depend on the results of the trials of the vaccine in adolescents and children that are underway now. Based on the current pace of research, it is potentially achievable to have a vaccine for at least children 12 and up before the 2021-22 school year begins.
Q: Can COVID-19 vaccine be co-administered with other childhood or adolescent immunizations?
A: Until we have a COVID-19 vaccine for children, we need to focus on getting children caught up and keeping them up to date on routinely recommended vaccines. Under-vaccinated children will be at greater risk of other vaccine preventable illnesses such as measles, pertussis, and influenza unless they are fully vaccinated.
Administration of the COVID-19 vaccine with other childhood or adolescent immunizations has not yet been tested. There are very few vaccines in which co-administration with other vaccines is problematic. This topic needs to be studied, especially in the youngest children who receive vaccines at many of their visits. Due to lack of data on safety and efficacy of the vaccine administered simultaneously with other vaccines, the CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine should be administered alone with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccines.
Note the Pfizer vaccine is FDA-approved for patients 16 years and older, while the Moderna vaccine is FDA-approved for patients 18 years and older.
Q: Will the vaccine be required for school entry?
A: When a vaccine is shown to be safe and effective in children, health authorities, including the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, will make recommendations on when and how children should receive the vaccine. However, state governments set requirements for which vaccines are needed for school entry.