Since the end of 2020, we’ve been hearing more about the different types of Covid vaccine that are being reviewed and distributed. Vaccines by Pfizer / BioNTech and Oxford University / AstraZeneca are now approved for use in the UK and the government has set out the plans for its mass vaccination programme.
This is incredibly positive news and marks a big step forward in our fight against Covid-19. However, there are many questions that we as parents have about the vaccine, such as when people will be vaccinated/immunised and whether our children will be able to receive it. There are also questions around the logistics of the new vaccines, and how it will be distributed to our kids.
Here, we break down everything that we know so far about what the new Covid vaccine means for children:
Does the Covid vaccine work on children?
So far, we don’t have enough evidence to say whether any of the approved vaccines work on children. We know that the vaccine is highly effective for adults, and several companies have begun clinical trials on younger kids.
As the trials continue, we will get more information on the efficiency of the vaccine for children and teenagers. Currently, we are still waiting for the full data to confirm how protective the vaccine is for different age groups.
It’s important to remember that age is a huge factor in the effect of this virus on individuals, and therefore children are at very low risk of getting seriously ill even if they do catch Covid.
Is the Covid vaccine safe for children?
Any vaccine that is approved for public use has to meet stringent safety standards. This means that the Covid vaccines which have become available have been overseen by national regulatory bodies as well as several independent technical bodies, coordinated by the World Health Organisation. These organisations review the safety of vaccines before they are introduced to the public.
Even though Covid vaccines are being developed rapidly, they still have to pass strict regulatory approvals. Therefore any Covid vaccine that the government approves has been approved as safe for public use. Pfizer has so far reported that from the 43,538 participants in their vaccine trials, no serious safety concerns have been observed.
If the vaccine does become available for children, it will have passed vigorous safety checks from multiple organisations and scientific bodies.
Is the Covid vaccine safe for pregnant women?
Currently, the vaccine is only advised for pregnant women who are deemed to be at ‘high-risk’, with other pregnant women able to be vaccinated once their pregnancy is over. Although clinical trials still need to be conducted, there is currently no evidence that the vaccine is unsafe during pregnancy.
Until further trials can be conducted, some (high-risk) pregnant women may decide to be vaccinated rather than risk suffering serious complications from Covid. This decision should be made in consultation with your doctor/health professionals.
Is the Covid vaccine safe for breastfeeding women?
Although more testing needs to be done, there is currently no known risk in giving the Covid vaccines to breastfeeding women. If you are eligible you may be offered the vaccine, but some women may also decide to wait until after they have finished breastfeeding before being vaccinated.
If the Covid vaccine is proven to be effective for children, will they be able to get it?
Although testing is being carried out on children, we know that the disease tends to affect older members of the population more severely, as well as those who are vulnerable due to other health conditions.
This means that for the time being children are not eligible to receive the Covid vaccine, and priority has instead been given to people who are older/more clinically vulnerable.
When will children be able to get vaccinated against Covid?
Until there are enough vaccinations for everyone in the population, it is likely that those aged 50 and above will be most likely to receive the vaccine. The initial doses of the vaccine are currently being reserved for those most vulnerable to the disease, such as the elderly and health/social care workers.
More doses of the vaccine are expected to become available later this year, however it is unclear what the government’s policy will be on vaccine distribution and if/when children will be eligible to receive them.
Would children get the Covid vaccine the same way they get their flu vaccines?
Currently, all children in primary schools and year 7 are entitled to a free flu vaccine, administered as a nasal spray. If the vaccine is approved to be given to children, there is no suggestion that it would be available in a different format to the standard injection that most vaccinations are given through.
In terms of distribution, the vaccines are currently being distributed at designated hospitals and care homes, and so far over a million people in the UK have been vaccinated. As mentioned previously, however, there are currently no plans to give children the Covid vaccine.
Will the Covid vaccine allow schools, nurseries and childcare to operate as normal again?
Although the news of a potential vaccine is promising, there are still many things we don’t know and therefore it’s too soon to assume that schools and other parts of society will be able to return to normal within the next few months. As it stands, schools are closed but nurseries and childcare are still continuing to operate, with certain health and safety measures in place. Check out our article for more information on how to keep safe when booking childcare during this time.
The vaccine still needs to be approved, manufactured and distributed before we can think about loosening any current restrictions, and until then we need to continue to follow the measures that we know work social distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing.
Is the Covid vaccine good news for children?
Simply put, yes. Although the vaccine might not be given to children until other members of the population have been vaccinated, we know that mass vaccination could have a real benefit to society as a whole. If we are able to prevent people from falling ill with Covid, we may eventually start being able to open things back up and see our friends and families more regularly – which will have a huge positive impact on our children’s lives.