Why Most Teens Can’t Get Vaccinated Yet

Vaccines are currently unavailable for children, but health officials are hopeful about their availability in the near future.

The CDC reports that children are at a lower risk of contracting COVID-19 and are less likely to develop severe symptoms. However, this does not mean that they are out of harm’s way. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, COVID-19 cases in children have hit a total of over 3 million as of February. Vaccines are still going to be important for children to be protected from the brunt of COVID-19 risk, so why are they currently ineligible and when will they be eligible?

The reason that children are currently unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is that the safety has not been confirmed yet. The FDA’s vaccine approval process restricts initial testing and usage to adults before it can move on to children. So for now, the vaccine has not been approved by medical professionals for usage in children. 

As for when vaccines will be available for children, there is no way to be completely sure of a timeline. Clinical trials must first be completed to determine if the vaccine is safe for children. As vaccine distribution is starting to speed up, researchers are slowly beginning to include children under the age of 16 in clinical trials. If this process is completed and no serious side effects are found, then the FDA can evaluate a vaccine for safety, purity, and potency

In Kentucky, children under the age of 16 are part of Phase 4 of the vaccine rollout plan, the last phase in the process. This will not change unless clinical trials discover any major obstacles with administering the vaccine to children. 

“Yes, [vaccine ineligibility] does affect my decision to stay online. Vaccines being made available to children under 16 will provide a safer environment in schools,” freshman Ethan Yiannikouris said.

On a national scale, some experts have predictions about when vaccines will be available for children.

[Anthony Fauci] was hopeful that the vaccine might be authorized for children down to first graders by the time school started in September,” ProPublica reporter Caroline Chen said. 

The current vaccines that have been approved for usage and are currently being distributed, Pfizer and Moderna, have finished enrolling children in clinical trials. This means that they are well on the path to rolling out vaccines safe for children to take.