BOCA RATON, Fla. — As we wait for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Florida, questions still remain on, if and when, the vaccine might be safe and/or effective for children. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for trials to include more children.
Doug Harris is a local father to three girls.
“We want the new normal to end,” he said. “The kids are doing the drive-by birthday parties, no vacations, virtual school, very few play dates.”
Harris and his wife plan to get the vaccine when it is available.
“We have vulnerable family members at home, so we are willing to step ahead and be the early adopters, but as a parent, if parents alone get vaccinated, is that enough to protect the entire family?” he asked.
Harris has plenty of questions about the vaccine and safety with regards to children.
“With three girls at home under six, including an infant, how soon do they anticipate having a vaccine for kids this young?” he wondered. “With the short clinical trials, at what point will there be enough data to be able to declare that there truly will be a safe vaccine?”
He went on to ask: “Should the little ones even go to school next year?”
Dr. Chad Rudnick, a pediatrician at BOCA VIPediatrics, said we need more information.
“So when it comes out and the first rollout, children of any age will not be included,” he said. “We know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children start to be included in vaccine trials.”
Dr. Rudnick said they’ll have to see if it works and whether it’s safe for children. He said that would be done in steps with different ages.
“The same process that happened with adults going through the vaccine trials will now start again with children,” he explained. “First establishing that the vaccine is safe, and then establishing does the vaccine actually work?”
He said parents have lots of questions about how this might compare to the influenza vaccine.
“They are two very different diseases we are targeting,” said Dr. Rudnick. “With influenza, its a moving target, which is why some years the flu vaccine is more protective than others. But with Coronavirus so far, it’s not that much of a moving target.”
If it becomes a safe and effective option for children, he believes it is a community effort.
“While the risk of COVID to a child is lower than that of someone who is elderly or has other medical conditions, we know that children can spread it to other people,” he said. “But the risk to a child is not zero. So we want to make sure that, of course, that there is less risk for getting a vaccine, so we can keep children safe, and they can keep those around them safe. By all of us getting it, we are able to protect those of us around us who can’t get it, like very, very young children, like babies to start.”