With vaccines becoming available to protect against COVID-19, we've made a big step toward stopping the virus that causes this deadly disease. The first vaccines released are authorized for emergency use in adults and teens who are at least 16 years old. High-risk groups such as elderly people and frontline health care workers are first in line to receive them, with other adults and teens likely to have access later in 2021.
Before COVID-19 vaccines becomes available for younger teens and children, clinical trials need to be completed. This is to ensure they are safe and effective for these age groups. Children are not little adults; we can't just assume a vaccine will have the same effect on a child as it does for someone older.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a terrible toll on children's health. We need more data on vaccines for our younger patients so they can be protected from this virus and the pandemic can be controlled. Once this information is available, the AAP will review it and make informed decisions about vaccine recommendations for children and adolescents.
The timing of vaccine availability will depend on the results of the trials of the vaccine in adolescents and children that are planned or underway now. But based on the current pace of research, it may be possible to have a vaccine for at least some age groups of children and adolescents before the 2021-22 school year begins.
Once a vaccine is shown to be safe and effective in children, health authorities, including the CDC and the AAP, will recommend when and how children should receive the vaccine. However, it is a state government decision which vaccines are required for school entry. Those decisions could vary by state.
One thing is certain: We look forward to the day when children are safely able to go back to school and enjoy their communities, thanks to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.