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Experts reveal when they think the COVID-19 vaccine will be ready for children

Both Pfizer and Moderna are studying the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines on children ages 5 to 11 years old

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Parents wait outside of Loretto Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida.

Parents wait outside of Loretto Elementary School Tuesday morning, Aug. 10, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla., as children were temperature checked at the school gate in order to enter the campus for the first day of the new school year.

Bob Self, The Florida Times-Union via Associated Press

Parents hoping to get their young children vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus are going to have to wait a little longer, according to the director for the National Institutes of Health. But some health experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, are hopeful a shot could be ready by the holiday season.

Dr. Francis Collins, who leads the NIH, said on NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Tuesday that drug companies Pfizer and Moderna have been studying appropriate vaccine doses for children and that Pfizer may submit its research to the Food and Drug Administration for review this fall.

  • “I’ve got to be honest, I don’t see the approval for kids — 5 to 11 — coming much before the end of 2021,” Collins told NPR.
  • On Monday, the FDA fully approved Comirnaty — or the shot formerly known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine — for those ages 16 or older. The Pfizer shot is still allowed to be used for 12- to 15-year-olds under an emergency use order.

White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said on NBC’s “Today” show it’s possible that children under 12 years old — who are not currently ineligible for any of the coronavirus vaccines — could potentially get the shot later this fall.

Fauci was more optimistic, saying Tuesday that he “thinks there’s a reasonable chance” that children under 12 could get a vaccine shot ahead of the holiday season.

  • He added that both Pfizer and Moderna, working with federal health officials, were researching the safety and effectiveness of their vaccines on a younger population.
  • “I hope all of that process will take place expeditiously,” Fauci told “Today,” and that by “mid-to-late fall and early winter” young children could potentially get vaccinated.

So how should parents protect their unvaccinated kids from the coronavirus while drug companies finish their research? Collins — of the NIH — encourages children to wear masks.

  • “If you want to avoid having that outbreak that’s going to send all the kids home again, you should be doing everything to avoid that. And that means wearing masks,” the NIH director said on NPR.
  • “And by the way, if somebody tries to tell you we don’t really have scientific evidence to say that masks reduce infection in schools, that’s just not true. There are dozens of publications, both from the U.S. and other countries, to show that’s the case. So, boy, I wish we could get over that fight,” Collins added.