Vaccine Trials in Children and Teens Underway

Third-grade students listen during a music class at Tibbals Elementary School in Murphy, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

With millions of adults vaccinated, drug companies are holding clinical trials of adolescents to see if the vaccines are effective and safe.

“If you want to get this under control, you need to vaccinate kids,” Paul Stoffels, the chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, told Bloomberg. Johnson & Johnson hopes to publish its the results of vaccine clinical trials for adults in February, and if it is effective, begin trials with children enrolled shortly after.

Pfizer and Moderna have thousands of teenagers between 12-18 enrolled in clinical trials, with parental consent. The team behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca plans on running trials with a focus on 6-11 and 12-18 age groups. They would receive the amount of the vaccine as adults.

Children and young adults are at less risk for being infected with COVID-19 and if they catch it, it is rarely as dangerous as it is in older people. Inoculating the youth is more of a matter of reducing transmission and achieving herd immunity.

“Children are part of the transmission chain, so eventually, if we want to get to the stage of herd immunity, they have to be included in vaccination schedules,” said Beate Kampmann, the director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s vaccine center.

Additionally, the frequents closure of schools and lockdowns have had many physicians, development experts and parents worried about the physical and psychological well-being of children. The sooner children can be vaccinated and the world can reopen safely, children will once again have the structure of school and peers, and parents can work without having the additional burden of overseeing their childrens’ virtual schooling.