The number of adults across the United States who’ve received COVID-19 vaccines is climbing quickly, and experts agree that the next big step toward reaching herd immunity is getting children vaccinated as well. Widescale immunizations of children will 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.
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.