What’s in store for kids and the COVID-19 vaccine?

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 9:24 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As COVID-19 vaccine eligibility grows for adults, kids are inching closer to the possibility of a shot.

Moderna has started testing its coronavirus vaccine in children. The company announced Tuesday 6,750 participants across the United States and Canada will participate. They’re older than 6 months but younger than 12.

“This is actually very exciting,” Dr. William Hartman, the principal investigator of the AstraZeneca trial at the UW, said. “The clinical trials had been done in the adults. We have safe and effective vaccines that are doing wonders in our country, driving down COVID numbers every day as more and more people get vaccinated. Now we’re going into that final frontier of figuring out whether these are safe and effective vaccines in our children.”

Pfizer is studying the vaccine in children, as well, though the participants are older than 12.

Dr. Hartman explained why children need to be tested separately from adults. “The immune response is very similar,” he said. “The biggest question is: What dose do we need in these children? Does it have to be the adult dose or can we do half of that dose?”

When that question is answered, Madison parent Heather Rainwater says she’ll sign her second grader up.

“I am a little bit higher risk of a person myself because I also have diabetes,” she said. “Because of that my whole family is very serious about getting vaccinated.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 3.28 million children in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus, roughly 13 percent of all cases. While experts like Dr. Hartman say severe illness caused by COVID-19 is rare among children, they also say immunizing them is important for the bigger picture.

“We do know that the virus can be transmitted from children to adults, and adults can become much sicker than their kids if they were to contract it. So helping to contain the spread of this virus is going to be extremely important, and kids are going to be a big part of that solution.”

NBC15 reached out to the DHS Tuesday to see how it plans to vaccinate Wisconsin children under the age of 16. A spokesperson said their eligibility hinges on the FDA’s authorization of a vaccine for this age group.

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