With Covid Vaccines for Teens and Kids, Timing Matters

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“In the end, this will be very good for vaccines that so much emphasis has been put on the process and the safety and the review,” Dr. Campbell said.

“In the past, I think people didn’t realize just how much scrutiny there is,” of serious reactions to any vaccine, Dr. Campbell said, or how much attention is paid to schedule, dose, and immune response when a new vaccine is tested.

When it comes to the Covid vaccines, Dr. Maldonado said, “We’re not overly specifically concerned about anything with this vaccine, we’re just following the normal processes.”

Still, it’s possible that younger children, who typically have more robust immune systems than adults, may react more strongly to the Covid vaccines. That is why vaccine studies in children look carefully at dosage and immunologic reactivity, Dr. Beers said: “They often start with a smaller group, give a lower dose of vaccine, test the response, work their way up to the dose needed for adequate immunity.”

Dr. Campbell and his colleagues at Maryland are just starting their first study of Covid vaccine in children under 12. And no one, he said, should be trying to convince parents that the vaccines are safe and effective in this age group until the data are available: “I have no reason to believe they won’t be safe and effective, but the proof is in the pudding — I want to see the pudding.”

Getting children caught up on their regular vaccines makes sense because it will keep them well protected if other diseases flare up now that the pandemic has driven down the rates of the usual childhood immunizations. Doctors are worried about a whole list of vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, whooping cough, meningitis, HPV and flu.

Will Covid vaccines eventually fit into the schedule of routine childhood immunizations, and if so, at what age? Because the new vaccines are still in an emergency use authorization phase, “Nobody has answers; we’ll have to see over time,” Dr. Maldonado said.