Children could begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine as soon as spring

Starting in the spring, the United States could be ready to start vaccinating children for COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday.

Experts say vaccines for children will be the next step to moving past the pandemic. Researchers and doctors know children do get COVID-19. Although the cases are usually not as severe as older populations, they are still spreading the disease unknowingly oftentimes and experts say it's important they be protected.

"Hopefully by the time we get to the late spring/early summer, we can have children being vaccinated in accordance with the FDA’s guidance," said Dr. Fauci.

Right now, Pfizer has fully enrolled 12 to 15 year olds in their adolescent trial and Moderna isn’t far behind, enrolling 12 to 17 year olds in its program.

"So they’re getting vaccinated in January and then the second vaccine in February and then we’ll study them and follow them through March and April," explained Patsy Stinchfield with Children's Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota. "And then back to the regulators and us at CDC in April/May."

A CDC panel met earlier this week to talk about the topic. Children’s Minnesota nurse practitioner Patsy Stinchfield has been part of those meetings and is a long-time expert on vaccines.

"We’re asking three questions," Stinchfield said. "Is this vaccine safe in children? Does it work and at what dose does it work?"

Vaccine trials will need to be completed in the 12 year old and older population first before moving onto younger groups.

"We’ll be working on these other age groups through the latter half of 2021 and probably not vaccinating very young children until 2021, early 2022," she added.

She added that no safety corners are being cut and that children need to be protected the same way we’re protecting adults.

"Children are 25 percent of our population and if we don't vaccinate children, we’re going to have a harder time getting out of the pandemic," concluded Stinchfield.

In terms of rollout, Stinchfield expects that once approved for kids, the vaccines would most likely be given in places like pediatric family practices or clinics -- the same way other vaccines are given to children -- versus a large vaccine event.