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March 16, 2021

How and When Will Kids Get Vaccinated

Dr. Scott Zucker, a pediatrician at PediatricCare Associates in northern New Jersey

Vaccinating kids is essential protection from COVID-19 and its variants. But before the vaccine is rolled out to children, clinical trials must be complete to make sure it is safe and effective in all age groups. 

“Not all kids fall into one category,” says Scott Zucker, MD, a pediatrician at PediatriCare Associates in northern New Jersey. “Vaccine manufacturers are testing by age group, oldest to youngest, and each group takes about 6 months to evaluate.” 

Currently, Moderna is testing 12 to 16-year-olds, while Pfizer and J&J are testing ages 12 to 18. Once the research confirms these new vaccines are safe and effective for children in this age range, testing will begin for ages six to 12, and then for six months to six years.

“Many children will be vaccinated by the start of school in September, but it will most likely take us to 2022 before enough children are vaccinated for herd immunity,” says Dr. Zucker. He explains that the science is already showing that children ages 12 to 16 will likely receive the same vaccine that adults are receiving now. Doses for children under 12 will have the same ingredients, but at a lesser strength. 

For parents who are hesitant about vaccinating their child, Dr. Zucker aligns with the American Academy of Pediatrics with a consistent and unwavering reply, “Get it, and get it as soon as it is available for your child’s age group.” He explains, “Nothing we do is without danger, but the danger of COVID-19 is known and still unclear as to why a 20 -year-old may die from this virus and a 104-year-old who lived through the 1918 Spanish Flu beats it. Personally, I don’t think it is worth the risk of getting COVID-19.”

Vaccine symptoms will be the same in children as they are in adults – a sore arm, fever, fatigue, muscle pain, and chills – all relatively benign side effects. The only rare yet serious side effect is anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction to the shot. In all cases, a risk assessment will be conducted by the medical providers for any reactions to previous vaccines to minimize a child’s risk when receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.