Over the weekend we heard the exciting news that a new Covid vaccine is showing promising results. The new vaccine, created by Pfizer and BioNTech, is one of several options currently being trialled, and initial results suggest that it could prevent more than 90% of people from catching the disease.
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 the vaccine will be rolled out and whether our children will be able to receive it. There are also questions around the logistics of the new vaccine, 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 the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine will work on children. We know that the vaccine is over 90% effective for adults, and testing began in September to include teenagers aged 16-18 years old in the vaccine trials. In October, the scientists further increased their testing to include children as young as 12, and they plan to continue working their way down to testing children of younger ages.
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.
Is the Covid vaccine safe for children?
Although there is still more testing to be done, we know that any vaccine that is approved for public use has to meet stringent safety standards. This means that if the Covid vaccine does become available, it will 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 the Covid vaccines are being developed rapidly, they still have to pass strict regulatory approvals. Therefore any Covid vaccine that the government approves will have 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.
Is the Covid vaccine safe for pregnant women?
So far, it is not clear whether the new vaccine would be offered to pregnant women. It will take some time before the vaccine trials can provide enough data on whether it should be approved for pregnant women, and it is likely that other ‘clinically vulnerable’ groups such as the elderly will receive the vaccine first.
If the Covid vaccine is effective for children, will they be eligible 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 even if the vaccine is confirmed as effective for both children and adults, children will likely be quite far down the list in terms of who gets priority for vaccinations. At the moment, there are no plans for children to get the Covid vaccine.
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. Although some doses of the vaccine may be available by Christmas, these would be 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 by Spring 2021, 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, there are currently plans to establish dedicated GP clinics in England that would administer at least 975 Covid vaccines a week. They would be likely to run from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, in order to vaccinate as many people as possible. As mentioned previously, however, children are unlikely to receive vaccinations until they have been administered to more at-risk members of the population.
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, education and childcare are still continuing to operate but 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.