Experts agree that the next big step toward reaching herd immunity is getting children vaccinated against COVID-19. Widescale immunizations of children will also be important for safe and healthy operations of schools.
Follow along here for news and important updates on the development and rollout of coronavirus vaccines for kids.
Sept. 28, 2021
Pfizer submits data to FDA on its Covid-19 vaccine in children 5 to 11
Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech have submitted data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the efficacy and safety of their Covid-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11. It’s an important next step in the companies getting emergency use authorization from the FDA for their vaccines to start being administered to children.
Trial results have found the Covid-19 vaccine to be safe and effective in that age group.
In a press release, the companies reiterated that trial results for children 6 months to 4 years old are expected in the fourth quarter of this year.
Sept. 28, 2021
U.S. has enough COVID-19 vaccines for kids’ shots
With more than 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available, U.S. health authorities said they’re confident there will be enough for both qualified older Americans seeking booster shots and the young children for whom initial vaccines are expected to be approved in the not-too-distant future.
Sept. 20, 2021
Pfizer study finds that its vaccine is safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11
Pfizer has announced the results of its clinical trials, finding that a lower dose of its COVID-19 vaccine it developed with German biotechnology company BioNTech for adults is safe and effective for 5- to 11-year-olds. The company said it plans to submit the data to the Food and Drug Administration and request emergency use authorization by the end of this month.
A press release from Pfizer said that side effects for this age group were similar to what have been experienced by teens and young adults. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 was recently given full approval by the FDA for ages 16 and older. Pfizer’s statement did not specifically address the issue of heart inflammation in its study of 5- to 11-year-olds, a rare but concerning side effect of the vaccine that has been most common among teen and young adult males. According to the health news website STAT, the condition is so rare that no clinical trial will be big enough to give an analysis on the risk. The risk of heart inflammation will be top of mind for regulators as they consider whether to give emergency approval to the vaccine for younger children.
Pfizer expects to have data for the remaining groups of children, 6 months to 2 years, and 2- to 5-years-old in the fourth quarter of this year.
Sept. 10, 2021
Pfizer-BioNTech announces plans to seek vaccine approval for children ages 5-11
The makers of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine said on Friday that they would be submitting the results of their trials in children ages 5-11 to regulatory authorities across the world within the next few weeks, according to the German news outlet Der Spiegel.
Currently, only children 12 and older can receive the vaccine.
BioNTech’s chief executive, Ugur Sahin, said that trial data look good, and that “everything is going according to plan.” The company is planning to start producing smaller doses of the vaccine for younger children, preparing for regulatory approval.
Sept. 9, 2021
Los Angeles Unified mandates vaccines for all students 12 and older
The Los Angeles Unified school district voted Thursday to require COVID-19 vaccines for all students 12 and older who attend school in person, a move that could ricochet nationally, paving the way for other districts to enact similar mandates.
The board of the country’s second-largest school district voted unanimously in a special meeting to approve the new policy. The panel announced the meeting the previous day, setting social media abuzz and drawing national notice, since it is the first big district in the country to require vaccines for all eligible students. One board member recused himself because of stock ownership in Pfizer, the maker of the only vaccine authorized for use in children.
Los Angeles, with 600,000 students, already had among the strictest protocols for pandemic safety, requiring regular COVID testing for all staff and students, masks for everyone indoors and outdoors, and vaccines for all staff members unless they have medical or personal-belief reasons to avoid them.
Students must get their first dose of the vaccine by Nov. 21 and the second by Dec. 19. District officials noted that exemptions would be granted for “medical and other” reasons but did not provide additional details.
Aug. 31, 2021
Just half of parents plan to vaccinate their children against COVID-19, poll finds
Fifty-one percent of parents said in the latest Education Next poll that they would “probably” or “definitely” vaccinate their child. Meanwhile, 34 percent said they probably or definitely would not, and 15 percent remain undecided.
Vaccine hesitancy among parents and guardians remains a hurdle toward getting enough of the U.S. population vaccinated against the coronavirus to tamp down on its rampant spread.
Political party affiliation and children’s ages played into parents’ attitudes toward vaccination, according to the Education Next poll. Republican parents were far more hesitant about the idea of vaccinating their children against COVID-19: Thirty-five percent said they would do it, compared with 66 percent of parents who are Democrats.
Parents with children in elementary school were also more hesitant about immunizing their children against COVID-19 than parents with kids in middle and high school. Currently, children under 12 years of age cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Aug. 30, 2021
Fauci backs COVID-19 vaccine requirements for school attendance
Requiring schoolchildren to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend school is a “good idea,” according to one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that while there will likely be a lot of pushback to this idea, mandating vaccines for schoolchildren is nothing new.
“We’ve done this for decades and decades, requiring polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis,” he said.
A recent AP/NORC poll showed that 55 percent of Americans are in favor of mandating COVID-19 vaccines for eligible school children. Currently, only adolescents 12 years and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA may grant emergency use authorization to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer for children 5- to 11-years-old by late fall or early winter.
Aug. 23, 2021
First COVID vaccine wins full FDA approval for ages 16 and up
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted full approval to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. This means teens 16 and older, who have already had access to the Pfizer vaccine through emergency use authorization, can now be inoculated with a vaccine fully approved by the FDA.
Public health officials are hopeful that full approval of the Pfizer shot will raise people’s confidence in the vaccine. Forty-one percent of parents of children ages 12-17 said their child had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July, according to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
More serious side-effects of the vaccine like heart inflammation in teens remains extremely rare, the FDA said.
Aug. 23, 2021
California school district likely the first to require COVID-19 vaccines for students
Culver City Unified School District in California is requiring all eligible students to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend school. The district is likely the first in the state—and quite possibly the country—to require the vaccine for all eligible students. A scan of news stories by Education Week could find no other examples of vaccine mandates for all eligible students.
Currently, adolescents 12 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Students in Culver in that age group will have until November to provide proof that they are vaccinated.
A few other places are requiring vaccines for students, but only those participating in athletics. State education officials in Hawaii announced in early August that high school student athletes in the state will have to get the COVID-19 vaccine to participate in sports. Public schools in New York City as well as the Niskayuna Central School District also in New York state, announced later in August that they will require high school students in high-risk sports to get vaccinated.
A new public opinion poll finds that 55 percent of Americans are in favor of vaccine mandates for eligible schoolchildren. However, according to the poll from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only 42 percent of parents support vaccine requirements for students.
Aug. 23, 2021
Possible link between a COVID vaccine and heart inflammation could be slowing down approval for adolescents
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna may carry a higher risk of causing heart inflammation in teens, according to a report by the Washington Post. U.S. regulators are investigating the potential link as the Moderna vaccine continues to await approval for emergency use authorization for children 12- to 17-years-old. Moderna filed for emergency use authorization for that age group over two months ago. By comparison, the FDA approved Pfizer’s emergency use authorization request for children 12 and older for its COVID-19 vaccine about a month after the company applied. Currently, no vaccine is available to children under 12.
The FDA added a warning label for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines about an increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis, conditions where the heart becomes inflamed. So far, the side effect remains rare and mild, and people are much more likely to get myocarditis from the coronavirus than from the vaccine.
July 27, 2021
Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna to expand COVID-19 vaccine trials for kids ages 5 to 11
Coronavirus vaccine producers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are increasing the size of their clinical trials for children ages 5 to 11, a move to help detect rare side effects such as heart inflammation among people younger than 30, the New York Times reported.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has told the two vaccine producers that the size and scope of their pediatric studies were not adequate to detect those rare side effects, which include myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart), according to the newspaper.
June 29, 2021
Some teens are getting their COVID-19 shots without their parents’ consent. Can they do that?
Polling shows that many parents are reluctant to get their teenage children vaccinated against the coronavirus. But that doesn’t mean their children necessarily are, and some teens are getting the COVID-19 vaccine without their parents’ knowledge. Forty states require minors to have their parents’ permission before getting vaccinated. But, as the New York Times reports, some states and localities are relaxing those rules in response to the pandemic.
Bills have been filed in Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York to lower the age of consent in those states, and the District of Columbia city council has voted to lower the age of consent to 11. Meanwhile, policymakers in other states, such as South Carolina, aim to raise the age of consent for the COVID-19 vaccines.
June 29, 2021
Misinformation Alert: The WHO has not backtracked on its guidelines for kids and COVID-19 vaccines
No, the World Health Organization has not reversed its stance on children and COVID-19 vaccines. This is one of many false rumors circulating on Facebook and other social media platforms about the vaccines that public health officials are trying to stamp out.
The social media post includes an image from the WHO’s website saying that “children should not be vaccinated for the moment.”
But that quote is taken out of context. As Politifact and Kaiser Health News report, this is not a change in WHO’s stance, rather it’s long been the organization’s guidance that there is less urgency to vaccinate children who get less sick with coronavirus and that more evidence of the vaccine’s safety is needed to make recommendations for younger children. (A WHO spokesperson told Kaiser Health News and Politifact that the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts has said the vaccine developed by drugmaker Pfizer and biotechnology company BioNTech is suitable for children 12 and older.)
Several drug trials are currently underway to test vaccine efficacy and safety in children under 12. So far only the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to children 12 and older in the United States. You can read the entire fact check from KHN and Politifact here.
The false claim that the WHO has reversed its recommendation for children to get the COVID-19 vaccine is one of many circulating on social media that have been debunked by medical experts. Other rumors assert incorrectly that the vaccine causes infertility or changes a person’s DNA. As detailed in a myth-busting article on the COVID-19 vaccine from Johns Hopkins, there is no scientific backing, nor evidence from vaccine trials, that the COVID-19 vaccine does either of those things.
June 29, 2021
Schools play a vital role in convincing uncertain families to vaccinate their children
As fixtures in their communities, schools have long been a source of public health information for families. For that reason, schools are perfectly positioned to play a key role in helping students and their parents overcome uncertainty about the new COVID-19 vaccines (or even routine immunizations), say public health experts.
Connecting families to experts who can answer their questions, providing families with well-vetted information, incentivizing the vaccine through prizes, and normalizing the vaccine by sharing personal experiences are all tried and true ways to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
Public schools in New Orleans are using all of that and more to encourage students to get vaccinated in the hopes it will allow campuses to return to near normal this fall.
June 24, 2021
CDC vaccine safety group says link likely between adolescents, COVID-19 vaccine, and rare heart inflammation
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine safety group says there is likely a connection between receiving the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer and heart inflammation. So far this side effect has been rare and non-life-threatening. Mostly adolescents and young adults have been affected, and males more so than females.
The most recent data on the potential link between the COVID-19 vaccines and heart inflammation was presented Wednesday at a meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The CDC still says the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks, even among adolescents and young adults.
June 17, 2021
CDC: Lags in childhood vaccines could spark outbreaks in other illnesses
Stay-home orders and other disruptions in the early months of the pandemic led to a dramatic drop in the number of students vaccinated against typical childhood diseases, the CDC says.
While families have started to bring their children back for doctor’s visits, it won’t be enough to recover the same level of protection for the large groups of students who will return to full-time, in-person learning this year without a major effort by schools.
June 10, 2021
Moderna asks FDA to authorize vaccine for 12- to 17-year-olds
Biotechnology company Moderna has filed a request with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for use among 12- to 17-year-olds.
If the FDA grants emergency use authorization to Moderna, this will significantly increase the number of vaccines available to adolescents ahead of next school year. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is currently the only one available to children as young as 12.
Data from drug trials found Moderna’s vaccine appears to have 100 percent efficacy among adolescents and caused similar side effects to those seen in adults.
June 8, 2021
COVID-19 vaccines for younger children could arrive this fall
COVID-19 vaccines for younger children are inching closer to reality. Pfizer announced on Tuesday that it is expanding its vaccine study in children under the age of 12 to 4,500 new participants. Based on results from the first phase of the trial, Pfizer will start testing smaller does of its vaccine, developed with German company BioNTech, in the younger age groups.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is the only one currently available for adolescents 12 years and older. Pfizer has previously said that it plans to apply for emergency use authorization for its vaccine in children as young as 2 in September.
Meanwhile, Moderna’s CEO says that the company’s COVID-19 vaccine will likely be available for children as young as 5 in the fall. Stéphane Bancel made the comments on Monday during an event hosted on the social media app Clubhouse, according to local news sources in Cambridge, Mass., where Moderna is headquartered.
May 25, 2021
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is effective and safe for adolescents, study shows
Biotechnology company Moderna has announced that drug trials show its COVID-19 vaccine is effective and safe for 12- through 17-year-olds. The company plans to submit this data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization in early June.
If the Moderna vaccine is authorized by the FDA, that will make two COVID-19 vaccines available to children 12 and older ahead of next school year. Currently, Pfizer’s vaccine is the only one authorized for emergency use for adolescents.
Initial data show the Moderna vaccine appears to have 100 percent efficacy in this age group, meaning no participant in the study caught COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. The vaccine also appears to have an efficacy among adolescents of 93 percent two weeks following the first dose.
The study included 3,732 12 to 17-year-olds. Side effects from the vaccine were similar to those in adults, including pain at the injection sight, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, and chills.
May 24, 2021
CDC monitoring small number of heart issues reported in recently vaccinated teens
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating to see if there is a potential connection between getting vaccinated against COVID-19 with an mRNA vaccine and developing a mild heart condition. There have been a few reports of people, mainly adolescents and young adults, developing a mild case of myocarditis most often within four days of receiving their second COVID-19 shot.
Myocarditis is when the heart muscle becomes inflamed. Pfizer and Moderna make the two mRNA vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.
While the number of myocarditis cases among that age group is no higher than it normally is, the CDC’s vaccine safety working group tasked with continuously monitoring the COVID-19 vaccines as they are distributed recommended that the potential link should be watched closely and shared with healthcare providers.
May 12, 2021
Can schools require kids to get the vaccine?
While some colleges and universities have made COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for students, experts say it’s unlikely states will issue similar requirements for K-12 students any time soon. That’s true even as federal agencies expanded eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine to children as young as 12 this week and states rushed to give them shots.
There’s a host of legal, political, and ethical questions involved in setting a new requirement, especially as COVID-19 vaccines are administered under an emergency-use authorization, which has allowed health providers to administer shots more quickly as the Food and Drug Administration considers more permanent approval.
And some health officials, leery after past debates with anti-vaccine activists, believe providing incentives for voluntary shots may be a more effective way of encouraging broad acceptance.
May 12, 2021
Schools plan clinics to vaccinate eligible students
Education and health officials in Connecticut moved swiftly to set up clinics to vaccinate 12- to 15-year-old kids with Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the Associated Press reported.
Clinics have been held at schools in more than 30 districts for 16- to 18-year-olds and others are being planned that could be expanded to vaccinate younger students, according to the state department of education.
May 12, 2021
CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is officially recommending the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15.
This follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision to grant the Pfizer vaccine emergency use authorization for that age group.
While the CDC’s endorsement of the Pfizer vaccine isn’t necessary to start immunizing 12- to 15-year-olds, and some states have already begun doing so, many clinics and pharmacies were waiting for the go-ahead from the CDC.
May 10, 2021
FDA green lights vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds
The U.S. Food and Drug administration has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in children as young as 12. This is the first COVID-19 vaccine the FDA has authorized for children 12- to 15-years-old. Until now, teens only as young as 16 could get the Pfizer shot.
The other two COVID-19 vaccines that have received emergency use authorization from the FDA, developed by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have not been authorized for anyone under age 18.
While children and adolescents generally experience less severe illness with COVID-19, inoculating them against the coronavirus is an important step in both beating back the pandemic and returning the nation’s schools to normal operations.
The FDA’s decision to grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer’s vaccine was based on an ongoing, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in the United States of 2,260 12- to 15-year-olds, according to the FDA. An analysis of that trial data found that the vaccine was 100 percent affective in that age group. As part of the emergency authorization, Pfizer will continue to monitor the safety of the vaccine in children as well as adults.
The most common side effect of the vaccine in the clinical trial were pain at the injection site, fever, headache, chills, muscle pain, tiredness, and joint pain—similar to what has been reported in adults.
May 6, 2021
Survey finds parents hesitant to get children vaccinated right away
The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that only 3 in ten parents of children ages 12-15 plan to get their children immunized against COVID-19 as soon as a vaccine is available to them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration may approve the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNtech for emergency use for that age group as early as next week.
Twenty-six percent of parents surveyed said they plan to hold off for the time being, until they have had a chance to see how the vaccine is working in others. Eighteen percent said they will get their child vaccinated if their school mandates it, while nearly a quarter of parents said they will definitely not vaccinate their children against COVID-19.
Among parents of children of all ages, larger shares of white and Black parents said they do not intend to vaccinate their children compared with Latino parents. Twenty-nine percent of Black parents and 22 percent of white parents said they will not inoculate their children once a COVID-19 vaccine is available to them, while only 10 percent of Latino parents said the same.
May 4, 2021
Biden announces vaccine goal, urges states to vaccinate adolescents
President Biden says the U.S. is ready to “move immediately” to make vaccines available at 20,000 pharmacy sites and through pediatricians as soon as FDA extends approval of the Pfizer vaccine for younger ages. He said he would urge states to get as many adolescents vaccinated with the first shot as possible by July 4, allowing time for full vaccination before the start of the 2021-22 school year.
FDA to weigh emergency use authorization of Pfizer vaccine for children ages 2 to 11
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to consider emergency use authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine in children ages 2 to 11, according to CNN.
Pfizer expects to ask the federal agency for emergency use authorization as early as September, the company said during its first-quarter earnings teleconference on May 4, CNN reported.
Pfizer and Moderna are currently testing their vaccines in children as young as 6 months old and plan to ask the FDA for emergency use authorizations for infants and young children sometime later this year, according to CNN.
Data from the federal Centers for Disease Control show that more than 44 percent of the total U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose and over 30 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the CNN story. But most of those people who have been vaccinated are adults.
Experts say one of the big challenges ahead is getting school age children vaccinated.
May 3, 2021
FDA approval imminent for use of Pfizer vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds
The Food and Drug Administration is set to sign off soon on the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 12, the New York Times reports. The approval will be a major development in the overall campaign to vaccinate more Americans and could go a long way toward ensuring healthy and safe operations of middle and high schools in the pandemic.
April 13, 2021
Pfizer requests clearance to use vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds
Pfizer and BioNtech requested April 9 that the Food and Drug Administration expand the emergency use authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine to allow it to be used in children age 12 to 15. Currently, the vaccine is authorized for emergency use for people age 16 and up.
Pfizer and BioNTech announced recently that their vaccine is safe and strongly effective for 12- to 15-year-olds, and that they hope to start vaccinating this age group before the start of next school year.
April 6, 2021
Teens start to get vaccinated, paving way for return to normal
High school juniors and seniors are starting to be vaccinated against COVID-19—a watershed moment in the pandemic for schools.
March 31, 2021
Pfizer says vaccine ‘strongly effective’ in teens
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 is safe and strongly effective for 12- to 15-year-olds, possibly accelerating the return to the classroom for millions of kids. In fact, the trial results show that the vaccine triggered robust immune responses that exceeded those seen in young adults.
February 22, 2021
Fauci: Vaccines for young kids not likely this year
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.
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.
February 11, 2021
Fauci says young kids could start getting vaccinated by September
A COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 1st grade may be approved early next school year, the country’s top infectious disease expert has told ProPublica.
Authorization of a vaccine for young children will of course hinge on whether trials show the vaccine is effective and safe for those age groups. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he thinks it is likely that the vaccine will be authorized for elementary-aged children by September.
December 3, 2020
Will a COVID-19 vaccine be mandatory for students?
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend schooling across the country, many educators, policymakers, parents, and students have staked their hopes of returning to normal on the development of a vaccine.
But once a vaccine becomes widely available, will lawmakers leave it up to families to choose to get inoculated or will they require schoolchildren to get a COVID-19 vaccine to attend school? Public polling shows that large swaths of the public are hesitant about getting a newly developed vaccine.