December 8, 2021

In The News: Children 5 and Older Now Have a Coronavirus Vaccine. But Many Parents of Younger Kids Are Still Anxiously Waiting

Families nationwide breathed a sigh of relief when the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5-11, The Washington Post reports. As the holiday season approaches, however, many remain uncertain about get togethers and general safety for children under 5.

A vaccine for this youngest age group is expected early next year. Clinical trials are underway for children as young as six months on both the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. For many of the parents quoted in the story, such a vaccine holds the promise of a return to normalcy.

Until then, the main measure to protect children younger than 5 “is to vaccinate as many people around them as possible to cocoon them, to put them in that bubble of protection when they’re not yet able to be vaccinated themselves,” said PIDS member David Kimberlin, who is quoted in the story, as is fellow PIDS member, Sean O’Leary.

In addition to COVID-19, children are susceptible to various other childhood illnesses after a mild 2020 season. There are questions about the degree of the flu season and a rise in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) absent the masking and social distancing mitigation practices of the previous year. Parents can also take this time to ensure children are protected through routine vaccinations, such as influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, even pneumonia.

More than 6.8 million children in the United States have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic leading to more than 600 deaths, including 200 under 5 years of age. “For those families, it’s the most devastating loss they can imagine…There is increasing recognition that children…can have long-term covid effects.” – David Kimberlin

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