When Can People Under 16 Get the COVID Vaccine?

Close-up medical syringe with a vaccine.


As we reach the one year anniversary of quarantine and COVID vaccines are being distributed, hope is on the horizon. People 50 or older in Solano county can get vaccinated as of a couple days ago, and many of us might know people who have already gotten the vaccine. But one question remains: When can people under 16 get vaccinated?

So far, nobody knows. Trials are still underway to determine the safety and effectiveness of children’s vaccines, but Moderna began a trial for 12 to 17 year olds in December 2020, and announced Tuesday that the company has given the first doses of the vaccine to children under 12 years old. The Moderna vaccine is currently authorized for those 18 and up, as is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is cleared for people 16 and older.

“For kids 12 and above, I think we’ll have a vaccine licensed before the 2021-2022 school year,” said Dr. Rober French, director of the Gamble Vaccine Research Center and principal investigator for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

No official timeline has been established, as it will depend on data from current trials. Pfizer has said, however, that the company has finished enrolling participants for its trial for teens 12 to 15 years old. Moderna announced this week that it began a trial for the vaccine in children as young as six months old to 12 years old. Pfizer expects to follow suit and start studies in children 11 and younger later this year. AstraZeneca, whose vaccine is not yet authorized in the U.S., announced their plans to test the vaccine in children 6 years old and up in three U.K. cities.

Dr. Natalie Azar, an NBC News medical contributor, predicted that vaccines will be available for kids above 12 years old before this fall, and Frenck’s “best guess” is that 12 to 17-year-olds could be vaccinated as soon as August and younger children in December 2021 to January 2022.

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