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COVID-19 vaccine for kids may take more time, research

Posted at 7:13 AM, Oct 05, 2020

Medical trials are underway across the country to approve a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine for adults, but that may leave many parents wondering: When will a vaccine be safe for kids?

It may take time.

Dr. Robert Frenck works in infectious diseases at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. As a lead researcher for a COVID-19 vaccine trial, he said these types of studies typically test adults first to see how they’ll react.

“We’ve got the idea as far as their safety and how well they make an immune response in the adults,” Frenck said.

“And then we start moving down in age to children who have had previous antibodies and the children who don’t have antibodies.”

The first step to get a vaccine trial for young kids is to start with adolescents. French said the pharmaceutical company Pfizer just opened up a COVID-19 vaccine trial to include 16-year-olds.

“We, as a group of pediatricians, have been saying, 'Let’s look at starting vaccine trials in children when you have a good amount of safety and immunogenicity data,'” he said.

What we may see eventually is an incremental approval of a vaccine, meaning adults could be approved while more research is being completed on the younger population, Frenck said. Ultimately, a vaccine for kids would mean a step towards getting back to a "normal," pre-coronavirus world.

“By having a vaccine that we can use across the age group, then we can have people feel comfortable to go back to school, go back to sports, to be able to get back to restaurants, to be able to go back to theaters,” Frenck said.

This story originally appeared on 13 Action News sister station WCPO in Cincinnati.