This information was updated on Jan. 12, 2021. Due to the nature of the pandemic, recommendations can change quickly. Please follow all health and safety guidelines set by your local public health authorities.
Moving to Colorado with children? Want to learn more about what’s going on with the COVID-19 vaccine, including when it will be available for kids? Here is some important information from Children’s Hospital Colorado.
The COVID-19 Vaccine: What We Know
When will it be ready? When will it be available for kids? Will it be safe? Our pediatric infectious disease expert Sean O’Leary, MD, MPH, breaks down the latest on the effort to produce a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine.
Which COVID-19 vaccines are approved and when can I get them?
In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved two vaccines for COVID-19: First one from drug-makers Pfizer and BioNTech, and next another from the drug-maker Moderna. Both vaccines are based on a technology known as mRNA, and both were shown in clinical trials to be better than 90% effective.
Both also require two doses, an initial shot and a booster 3 to 4 weeks later, to be fully effective. As of now, some people at especially high risk – healthcare workers and residents of nursing homes – have already received their first doses and should receive a second dose sometime soon. But many questions remain about who will be able to get a dose next, and when.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specific recommendations for who should get the vaccine and in what order. Next on the list are frontline essential workers such as firefighters, teachers and grocery store workers, as well as people over 75 years of age. That group, covered under the CDC’s “Phase 1b,” could start to receive doses in the next month or two. In theory.
In practice, the CDC is a federal agency and actual rollouts have been left up to individual states, which have faced challenging and complicated logistics. In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis has stated that people age 70 and older should be able to get the vaccine by the end of February, and that frontline essential workers will begin to receive it in early March.
When might Colorado Kids be vaccinated?
Children, especially children without any underlying conditions, are not likely to get the vaccine for several months. There are two reasons for that. One is that kids are at far lower risk for serious complications of COVID-19 than adults, particularly older adults. Many kids who get COVID-19 never even have symptoms.
Additionally, kids’ bodies are different, and they may react differently to a vaccine than adults do. Pfizer’s trials included kids as young as 12, but Moderna’s trials only involved adults. Studies that involve children younger than 12 are in the planning stages at this point, and Dr. O’Leary encourages families to be patient while waiting for a safe and effective vaccine for kids. While we wait, parents should make sure that the whole family has received a flu shot and is taking all precautions to prevent COVID-19, including face coverings and social distancing.
Will a potential new COVID-19 vaccine be safe?
Vaccines have historically been remarkably safe and effective, and Dr. O’Leary believes both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are no different. That’s because, although the process was accelerated, no corners were cut. Both vaccines went through every single step of the vast, rigorous and complex process required to understand the safety and effectiveness of any new vaccine. That goes not just for COVID-19 vaccines, but for the many other vaccines available. Dr. O’Leary notes that vaccination rates for kids have recently declined, potentially because families are avoiding healthcare providers’ offices due to the pandemic.
That would be a mistake, Dr. O’Leary says. Vaccines are the single best way to prevent disease: Kids need them to stay safe. That’s especially true this year, when COVID-19 has the potential to complicate other diseases in ways that are difficult to anticipate – including influenza. Dr. O’Leary urges families to make sure kids get their flu shot this year.
We’ve included much more information in our article, The COVID-19 Vaccine: What’s Going On? Read it in full at childrenscolorado.org.
Due to the evolving nature of the coronavirus pandemic, recommendations can change quickly. Please follow all local guidelines and reference CDC and CDPHE for immediate updates on COVID-19.