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COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens: What we do — and don’t — know

Published: (Updated: ) in Health News by .

Every day, more and more adults are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, helping us build toward herd immunity. But what about children and teens? What is the status of research on the vaccines in these groups, and when might vaccines be available for them?

The post COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens: What we do — and don’t — know appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

Vaccines have been heralded as a key measure to slow the COVID-19 pandemic and one day bring it to an end. Every day, millions of American adults are receiving one of the authorized vaccines proven highly effective at preventing severe illness that might otherwise lead to hospitalizations and deaths. In the US, most people over 65 have now been fully vaccinated, protecting the most vulnerable in our population.

As an infectious disease specialist, my responses to the questions below are based on what we know so far about infection and vaccines in children and teens. We’ll need to continue filling in gaps as research is done and our understanding evolves.

What do we know about how COVID-19 affects children and teens?

Most COVID-19 infections in children are mild or cause no obvious symptoms. However, a small percentage of infected children

Over 400 children have died from COVID-19 infection. That’s greater than the number of childhood deaths during the deadliest flu season in the past two decades.

Vaccinating children to prevent these outcomes is one of the most important reasons driving vaccine studies in children. Further, vaccinating children will be critical to achieving a population-wide level of immunity — herd immunity — sufficient to slow the emergence of dangerous variants and bring an end to the pandemic.

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What do we know so far about COVID-19 vaccines in teens?

As states expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines, teens 16 and older can receive the appropriate vaccine through the same sources adults have had access to so far. Available vaccine sites may vary by state and where you receive health care. Check the searchable map on VaccineFinder, or your state board of health.

Vaccine research done so far, or now underway, includes the following:

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What about COVID-19 vaccine trials for younger children?

All of these steps will take some time so that they can be done without cutting any corners on safety. The earliest vaccines will likely be available for younger children is late 2021, or perhaps early in 2022.

What is not yet known about COVID-19 vaccines in children and teens?

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The post COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens: What we do — and don’t — know appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

Source: Harvard Health Blog

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