Will the COVID vaccine be available for children and pregnant women?
There is some hope that a vaccine will be available for essential workers by the end of this year (see ?below/?above/ our FAQ “What do we know about the CDC’s COVID vaccine plans) and for the elderly in the spring of next year, however it is likely that children and pregnant women will have to wait quite a while longer before the vaccine is approved for them. As is normally the case, experimental vaccine trials start with the population deemed to be at lowest risk should side effects occur- in this case, that is “healthy adults” under 65 years old. Usually the elderly population is excluded because of their higher risk for side effects, however as the clinical trials have progressed, those over 65 have actually been included given their known risk of more severe COVID disease.
So far pregnant and breastfeeding women have not been included in clinical trials and only one of the potential US vaccine makers, AstraZeneca, has started to test its vaccine in kids. In June, when the FDA laid out it’s guidance regarding COVID vaccines, they stipulated that animal studies should be done first to assess developmental and reproductive toxicity. As of now, only one of the manufacturers, Pfizer, is conducting those trials, but other experts feel it’s only a matter of time. One of the leaders of the NIH’s COVID-19 Prevention Network, Larry Corey, said that ensuring the vaccines are safe for pregnant women “is of major importance” and that “discussions are underway to discuss plans for initiating studies in children.” In fact, outside of the US there are two clinical trials underway in China open to children over 6 months old and one in India allowing 12-65 year olds to enroll (no results have been published yet.) The Oxford-AstraZeneca trial (in Phase 2/3) is testing the vaccine’s safety in kids aged 5-12. Michael Osterholm, the director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy, says “There’s going to be a huge push to vaccinate children because of schools… so we can open schools more safely” and hopefully keep them open. We remain cautiously optimistic that safe and effective vaccines are available for prime time on the estimated timeline and that vaccines for pregnant women and children won’t lag too far behind. Read more here.
(Jackie Phillips, MD, September 8, 2020)
University of Southern California (USC)
undergrad Baylor College of Medicine UCLA (residency)
UCLA (chief residency)