Student Well-Being

Fauci’s Latest on Vaccines for Young Kids: Not Likely This Year

By Arianna Prothero — February 22, 2021 2 min read
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Joe Biden visits the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health on Feb. 11, 2021, in Bethesda, Md.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A COVID-19 vaccine probably won’t be ready for young schoolchildren until 2022, the country’s top infectious disease expert has said.

In a recent White House press briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, walked back his comments from a ProPublica interview, published Feb. 11, in which he said he was hopeful that children as young as 1st grade would be able to start getting vaccinated in the fall.

Other experts in infectious disease and pediatrics had said that timeline was overly optimistic. In particular, the American Academy of Pediatrics has raised concerns that there has not been enough urgency among vaccine developers in getting trials done for children under 16.

In a White House press briefing Friday, Fauci said it was unlikely there would be enough data from vaccine trials to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for elementary-age children until the first quarter of next year.

See Also

Vaccine in a bottle with a syringe.
Student Well-Being Explainer COVID-19 Vaccines and Schools: Your Questions Answered
Education Week Staff, January 5, 2021
3 min read

The new prediction is more in line with what other health experts have been saying.

However, Fauci said it is quite possible that a vaccine could be ready for approval for older adolescents in the fall, although not necessarily at the start of the school year.

“It is highly likely that sometime in the fall we will have data that will give us the capability of saying the safety and comparable efficacy in children 12 to 17, 18 years old,” he said. “Again, the final decisions we always leave to the FDA. I’m trying to give you a road map of what likely will happen.”

Other experts have told EdWeek that they think a vaccine could be approved for middle and high school students in the fall, although they caution that just because a vaccine is approved doesn’t mean it will be widely available.

Currently, some teenagers can get the two vaccines given emergency authorization so far by the Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and the German company BioNTech was approved for ages 16 and up. The vaccine created by U.S. biotechnology company Moderna has been approved for ages 18 and up.

However, because higher-risk groups such as the elderly, the immunocompromised, and frontline health-care workers are being prioritized in the initial phases of states’ rollouts, it’s unlikely that 16- to 19-year-olds will be getting widely vaccinated any time soon, unless they are immunocompromised.

Vaccine trials in children are done first in older age brackets, eventually working down to infants. Pfizer and Moderna are currently studying their vaccines in children 12 and older. Pfizer has said it plans to start trials for children ages 5 to 11 in the first half of 2021.

Developing a COVID-19 vaccine for children is more complicated than simply lowering the dosage because children’s immune systems are different from adults. The vaccines that have been approved in the United States do not use a live virus, but rather genetic material that triggers an immune response in the body. Children’s immune systems operate differently than those of adults.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Opinion Educators, Be Future-Ready, But Don’t Ignore the Present
Being ready for what lies ahead is important, but we also need to gain a better understanding of the here and now.
5 min read
shutterstock 226918177
Student Well-Being Opinion How to Prioritize Student Well-Being This Year
Use the Student Thriving Index to find out where your kids stand. Because you cannot manage what you cannot measure.
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Supporting Teachers & Students
In this Spotlight, evaluate your district and what supports your schools offer, assess attendance policies to avoid burnout, and more
Student Well-Being What the Research Says Child Hospitalizations Spike Under Delta, Particularly in Low-Vaccination States
Nationwide, the number of children and teens hospitalized due to COVID-19 has ballooned nearly tenfold since midsummer, new CDC data show.
2 min read
hopital stethescope 1222194507
Aleksandr Titov/iStock/Getty