Pfizer has provided data from vaccine trials in children under 12 years of age. The next step depends on the FDA

Like the adult vaccine, the dose administered to children is given in two injections spaced 21 days apart. Although there is some immune response within days of the first injection, the benefits of a full vaccination are not available until some time after the second injection. It is therefore unlikely that many children will receive optimal protection before Thanksgiving.

However, assuming an EUA is issued in October and pediatric vaccine doses start rolling out nationwide shortly thereafter, there should be good availability before the new year. That leaves open the possibility that, as schools bring students back from their vacation in January, vaccine requirements could be common for students from kindergarten to college.

Currently, the CDC’s recommendations do not suggest that schools require vaccination. However, the main reason is that many schools, especially schools located in smaller rural areas, have students under 12 in the same building as older students. Following EUA for children up to 5 years old, this barrier will disappear and universal immunization could easily be added to the CDC recommendations.

In the meantime, the CDC recommends universal vaccination for staff members and universal masking for students and staff. Recent CDC Studies showed that schools with mask warrants are much less likely to have to close due to COVID-19 outbreaks, that communities connected to these schools are less likely to be affected by community spread, and that rates of d infection and hospitalization of students are reduced.

Unfortunately, the list of schools requiring masking is limited, especially as several Republican governors have attempted to prevent school boards from being able to take this step to protect students. Likewise, the list of colleges that currently require the COVID-19 vaccine for all students shows clear geographic boundaries. While there are dozens of such schools in many states, there are exactly none in Idaho or Arkansas. or Kansas, or North Dakota, or South Dakota, or Wyoming. Other states, like Florida, only have one or two schools where vaccination is mandatory.

There really is no excuse for colleges not to require vaccination against COVID-19, especially since almost all of these schools require vaccination against half a dozen or more other diseases. But if the EUA were issued and the CDC revised its guidelines, it could usher in a wave of vaccinations in schools starting in elementary school.

Beating diseases like mumps or measles requires a very high level of vaccination. The same is true for COVID-19. This level of vaccination can only be achieved if children are included in the ranks of the vaccinated. And immunization of children is one of the things that models suggest could help the United States avoid another “winter peak” of cases and continue to decline to finally bring this disease under control.

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