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This Is the Earliest We Can Expect a COVID Vaccine for Little Kids

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The wait for COVID-19 vaccines for kids has been excruciating. The 5-to-11 age group finally got theirs last month, nearly a year after the vaccines were authorized for adults. But the under-5 contingent is still waiting, and unfortunately, they’ll be waiting even longer than we expected (or hoped).

That’s because Pfizer has announced their trial of a COVID vaccine for little kids wasn’t successful. They gave a two-dose regimen to children aged 6 months through 4 years, and only some of those kids ended up with an adequate enough immune response to declare the vaccines effective.

There are two small pieces of good news here: first, the vaccine was deemed safe in this age group, and the side effects were minimal. So from a safety perspective, the vaccine is doing great. The other bit of good news is that the youngest kids, aged 6 months through 24 months, had an immune response comparable to what young adults get from their vaccine.

The bad news is that 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds did not get a good enough immune response from the two-dose series being tested. If they had, Pfizer would probably be applying for authorization right away. But since they didn’t, we’ll have to wait.

What’s next?

The company’s plan is to add a third dose to the series for kids in this age range, coming two months after the second. In practice, this means you would have one dose, wait three weeks, then a second, then wait two months, and then get the third. It’s almost like an early booster.

If this strategy works, the company expects to apply for authorization for the vaccine for children between 6 months and 5 years during the second quarter of 2022meaning April, May, or June.

In the meantime, they’re already doing trials of a booster dose for older kids. It may turn out that even the adult vaccine series will need to be three doses, since three seems to be better than two against Omicron, and a three-dose regimen is already recommended as the standard for immunocompromised people.

Moderna is also doing trials of their vaccine in children under 12, but they haven’t announced results yet.