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When can children get the COVID-19 vaccine?

James D. Campbell, MD, MS, FAAP

Answer

When can children get the COVID-19 vaccine?

With vaccines becoming available t​o protect against COVID-19, we've made a big step toward slowing down  the virus that causes this deadly disease. The first vaccines released are authorized for use in adults and teens who are at least 16 years old. High-risk groups such as frontline workers and elderly people are first in line to receive the vaccines, with other adults and teens likely to have access later this spring.

Research shows these new vaccines to be remarkably effective and safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges teens and adults to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them.

Clinical trials for children

Before COVID-19 vaccines become available for younger teens and children, clinical trials need to be completed. This is to ensure they are safe and effective for these age groups. Children are not little adults; we can't just assume a vaccine will have the same effect on a child as it does for someone older.

While there are current studies that include children as young as 12 years of age, it is critical that children of all ages be included in more trials as quickly as possible.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a terrible toll on children's lives. We need more data on vaccines for children so they can be protected from this virus and the pandemic can be controlled. Once this information is available, the AAP will review it and make vaccine recommendations for children and adolescents.

Will there be a vaccine before the 2021-22 school year?

The timing of vaccine availability will depend on the results of the trials of the vaccine in adolescents and children that are planned or underway now. But based on the current pace of research, it may be possible to have a vaccine for at least some age groups of children and adolescents before the 2021-22 school year begins.

Will a COVID-19 vaccine be required for school entry?

Once a vaccine is shown to be safe and effective in children, health authorities, including the CDC and the AAP, will recommend when and how children should receive the vaccine. However, it is a state government decision which vaccines are required for school entry. Those decisions could vary by state.

One thing is certain: We look forward to the day when children are safely able to go back to school and enjoy their communities, thanks to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, and other measures that reduce transmission of the virus.

More information

COVID-19​ (HealthyChildren.org)

Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report

COVID-19 Vaccine: Frequently Asked Questions (AAP.org)

Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccination in Children and Adolescents​


James D. Campbell, MD, MS, FAAP

​James D. Campbell, MD, MS, FAAP, a pediatric infectious disease specialist based in Maryland, serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. ​

Last Updated
2/2/2021
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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