Coronavirus: When can teenagers, younger children be vaccinated?

As more COVID-19 vaccines are being produced and distributed. the eligibility rules for who can receive the vaccine are changing.

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While the first vaccines were directed toward the elderly, health authorities are beginning to lower the age limit for eligibility as more older Americans have received one or both doses.

President Joe Biden has projected that by May, there will be enough vaccines for anyone who wants one.

The question some are asking now is, what about the children? When will elementary, middle and high school-aged children be able to be vaccinated?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, directed of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said this past weekend that he believes that high schoolers should be able to get their first vaccine by the start of school or soon thereafter, and be fully vaccinated early in the fall.

“We project that high school students will very likely be able to be vaccinated by the fall term; maybe not the very first day, but certainly in the early part of the fall,” he said.

COVID-19 shots for younger children could follow in the first quarter of 2022.

Vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech along with others are testing their products on teens between 12 and 16. Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is accepted for use for ages 16 and older. Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine can currently be given to those 18 and older, as can Moderna’s vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson officials say they will be testing the vaccine in those younger than 18, including infants. Moderna is now conducting a trial on people 12-17 years old.

Children seem less likely to contract the virus or suffer severe effects from an infection, but as of March 4, about 3.23 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports.

While children make up a smaller portion of those who have contracted the disease, they appear to be effective transmitters of the virus, leading some to encourage the vaccination of children of all ages.

“Similar to adults with SARS-CoV-2 infections, children can spread SARS-CoV-2 to others when they don’t have symptoms or have mild, non-specific symptoms, and thus might not know that they are infected and infectious,” the CDC reported.

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