Vaccinating school-age children may be next step to normal fall semester

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — COVID-19 vaccines are moving through the adult population faster each week, and parents may soon be signing up their student to be vaccinated, too.

Both Buddy Creech, Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, and Isaac Thomsen, Associate Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, are encouraged by what school may look like this fall.

“I do think that we can take a little bit of a nod from our schools as they have reopened. We have not seen these massive outbreaks of coronavirus that we quite frankly thought we would see,” said Creech.

Creech said the chance of future outbreaks decreases even more now that teachers and support staff have access to immunity. Pediatric vaccine trials for both Pfizer and Moderna are also underway testing safety and effectiveness in children 12 and older.

“Quite frankly,” Creech explained, “Children aren’t little adults. They have their own biology. They’re smaller. We need to work on the dose that we’re able to give.”

Trial results are expected by summer. If all goes well, then Thomsen said, “By fall we may have vaccine available for 12 and up. So, you can envision a high school where virtually everyone is vaccinated and presumably would result in the ability to have school where kids aren’t masked.”

It’s too soon to know if a COVID-19 vaccine will be required. “There’s a long list of vaccines you have to have to go to school, maybe this is one more on that list,” said Thomsen.

But these experts believe, safely vaccinating students will further help reduce community spread.

“Kids serve as a reservoir for the virus, and even if a lot of the adults are vaccinated, if it’s going around through schools – yes, every continued circulation is a chance for persistence of the virus and mutations,” explained Thomsen.

Creech believes a staggered approach helps ensure protection for all. “Let’s get everyone around them vaccinated first, and then let’s methodically study this in children who are less than 12.”

And that will move the U.S. one step closer to the end goal of herd immunity.

“Vaccines are our path forward,” Thomsen said. “They’re the way to get the world back to the way we want it to be, and that’s probably going to be vaccinating across all ages,” which could happen by the end of the year.

Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Novavax also plan to test their vaccines in children. Those trials haven’t started yet.

As vaccinations gain momentum, News 2 digs deeper into what it will take for Tennessee to get into the home stretch of fighting COVID-19.
Join us for special reports on ‘The Vaccine Moving Forward‘ all day Thursday in every newscast.

From availability to current phases, find vaccine information for every Tennessee county using News 2’s Vaccine Tracker map.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss