The test positivity rate is rising in at least 42 states of the United States right now; it shows that the COVID19 pandemic is not yet over. Vaccine rollout program in the US is extensively going on in the country, but still, there are many people who have not been vaccinated yet. Many people are hesitant to book an appointment for vaccination due to the fear of initial side effects of the vaccine and many people have dodged their second doses. However, children are still at a higher risk of contracting the virus, as there is no shot for them at present. Although clinical trials are going on, children who are below 12 years are still not eligible to get the vaccine. The situation is less likely to change until schools start reopening next month, experts have said. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that though kids are less likely to fall ill with severe COVID19 disease but they can be a potential reservoir of infection. They can easily be infected with the virus and transmit it to others. The rate of infection and death due to COVID19 has reduced in the US as compared to last year; however, the more deadly Delta variant has become dominant in the country and is spreading across many states. Dr. David Cennimo, who is an infectious disease expert from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, has said that it is critical to vaccinate children to put a stop to the spread of the virus.
Pfizer and BioNTech have got their vaccine authorized from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use on children who are in the age range of 12 to 15 years. The companies have started testing their shot in a large group of kids who are under 12 years. The age range of children has been divided into five categories, 5 to 11 years, 2 to below 5 years, and 6 months to below 2 years, said the experts. Johnson & Johnson as well as asked for emergency use expansion for its shot to include kids who are in the age group of 12 to 17 years. The company has declared that it is enrolling kids who are in the age range of 12 to 17 years in its ongoing 2a phase clinical trial. Many experts are doubtful whether a COVID19 shot will be ready before schools reopen next month. Dr. Reynold Panettieri, the vice chancellor for translational medicine and science at Rutgers University, has said that many schools are up for reopening in the third week of August, and it is uncertain whether a vaccine will be ready and approved by that time. He hopes that a vaccine might be authorized and ready for emergency use by Thanksgiving. However, it is unclear whether there will be a vaccine for babies who are under 2 years. Pfizer as well is uncertain about a definitive date for when a shot will be ready for children below 12 years. The company has claimed that the data for kids in the age group of 5 to 11 years will be available by September 2021 and they can go ahead and apply for approval for emergency use. Dr. David Cennimo has noted that it is important to prioritize the age group first. He has said that school-going kids have more social interaction as compared to young kids and toddlers; therefore it is necessary to protect them as soon as possible.
Pfizer and BioNTech have said that the data for kids below 5 years will be available soon after they apply for emergency use authorization for a vaccine for kids in the age group of 5 to 11 years. The data for kids in the age group of 6 months to 2 years will be available around October and November and the company will file for authorization. Health experts have said that children contribute to a huge portion of the population. They can be potential spreaders or carriers of the virus. They have said that by vaccinating children, it will be easy to achieve herd immunity. As per the latest, kids who are below 15 years of age account for 26 percent of the global population. Health authorities claim that inoculating will lead to full protection against COVID19 only if the shots prove to be efficient against different variants of the virus. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been proved to be highly efficient among adolescents so far. The CDC has said that the Pfizer-BioNTech shot has been proved to be 95 percent effective against lab-confirmed COVID19 infection among people who are 16 years and above. The vaccine has been similarly effective among the younger population as well. Pfizer shot has been able to produce a robust immune response among children who are in the age range of 12 to 15 years. However, there have been many concerns regarding mRNA vaccines. There have been more than 1000 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis linked to mRNA shots. The CDC has said that these health conditions lead to inflammation of the heart. Cases of heart inflammation have been reported among adolescents particularly after vaccination. However, the advantages of getting the vaccine still outweigh the potential risk.