Mayo Clinic doctor answers questions about children and vaccines

Two COVID-19 vaccine trials are currently underway for children ages 12 and over, which a Mayo Clinic pediatrician says could produce an approval as soon as this fall.

As more adults are vaccinated for COVID-19, Mayo Clinic vaccine researcher Dr. Robert Jacobson says children eventually will need shots too.

"While the rates of infection and severity of the infection is lower in children, children still get infected, they still spread the infection and occasionally do develop severe disease," said Jacobson.

Jacobson says nearly 2.5 million children in the U.S. have been infected with COVID-19. More than 318 have died.

There are currently two trials underway for children. Moderna is testing its own drug in kids aged 12 to 17.

Pfizer is testing its vaccine in those aged 12 to 15 and hopes to have results in a couple of months with approval by early fall. So far, the trials have no red flags.

"We have heard of no safety signals reported to the Food and Drug Administration. Nothing that would cause the FDA to pause the trial for further study. So far, so good," said Jacobson.


It leads to a number of questions, including if schools should eventually require kids to get vaccinated before returning to in-person learning.

"While vaccination of the teachers and other adults in the building can help with that mitigation of risk, certainly we can’t require vaccines that currently do not exist for children to be a stumbling block or obstacle going back to school," Jacobson said.


Another question is if pregnant women are vaccinated, can the antibodies pass to the baby.

"Now the antibodies that we’ve seen the pregnant women develop are strong," said Jacobson. "It will still take months to understand what the antibodies measure in the baby might do in terms of preventing infection. I would say the data is still under study, we don’t know yet to have any confidence in whether or not if the baby is protected for any length of time from the mother’s vaccination."


If the parents are vaccinated, can families travel again?

"I would tell families, right now, to plan vacations that permit masking and social distancing and avoiding crowds," Jacobson said. "This is not the summer for planning family reunions. This is not the summer for planning big get-togethers."

There is not enough evidence to show whether vaccinated adults can still transmit the virus. Jacobson says, whether or not you’ve been vaccinated should not change how you plan your summer vacation.