The White House’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said in April that the U.S. could begin vaccinating older kids against Covid-19 by the fall while elementary-age children may start getting their shots by early next year.
The vaccine will be administered as a series of two doses, three weeks apart, the same regimen for 16 years of age and older, according to the FDA.
Approval by the FDA for kids under age 12 could come in the second half of this year. In a slide presentation that accompanied the company’s earnings release on May 4, Pfizer said it expects to apply for authorization for its vaccine for use in toddlers and young children in September and infants in November. It’s already begun the submission process seeking full FDA approval for its use in people ages 16 and up, the company said Friday.
In late March, Pfizer and BioNTech started a clinical trial testing their vaccine in healthy 6-month to 11-year-old children. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccines are authorized for people 18 and older, are also testing their shots in younger age groups.
The announcement from the FDA also comes amid President Joe Biden‘s push to reopen schools for in-person learning. The Biden administration has already said it would pour $10 billion into Covid testing for schools in an effort to hasten the return to in-person classes across the country.
Vaccinating kids may also greenlight after-school extracurricular activities such as sports, art and other in-person activities.
While parents may feel relieved their children can get vaccinated, some health experts have questioned whether doses should be held for kids, who are seen as less at risk for severe disease, while more at-risk people around the world remain unprotected.
Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health and emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, said there doesn’t need to be an either-or choice between vaccinating kids and distributing shots to the rest of the world. The U.S. can do both, he said. But added he is frustrated there hasn’t been more focus from the U.S. on getting the rest of the world vaccinated.
“If I were to ask you if a 12-year-old with no medical issues or a 57-year-old health-care worker who takes care of Covid patients every day should get vaccinated, the answer is very clear, right?” he said. “Why does that calculus change when it’s a health worker from a different country?”
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