By Lindsey Turnbull
Since the Government revealed the border opening date for vaccinated travellers arriving without the need to quarantine, the focus as to when children under the age of 12 can safely get the Covid-19 vaccine has come to the forefront of discussion. At a press conference held last week, Chief Medical Officer John Lee said he thought it would soon be time for vaccines to be approved for those aged 5 to 12.
“A lot of people are looking forward to being able to vaccinate their children,” he said, adding it was also a difficult area. “It’s one for parental consent in some cases, and in some cases maybe a joint decision between children and parents, for them to make and them to make alone.”
Dr Lee said that trials were underway to pave the way for safe vaccines for children aged between 5 to 12, but that the medical fraternity were still waiting for one of the Stringent Regulatory Authorities (which includes the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK and the Food & Drug Administration in the United States) to approve those vaccines.
“I think once one of them does, the others will probably all end up falling in line because they will have seen the data and they will be satisfied that the data means they will be happy to move forward and vaccinate that group of children,” Dr Lee advised.
A New York Times report from last month quoted the FDA as stating it was “working around the clock” to make Covid vaccines available to young children. But the FDA said until that point, parents should not try and get their children under 12 vaccinated. The newspaper said the FDA hoped to reach the point for younger children to be safely vaccinated “in the coming months,” but that it could not offer a more specific timeline.
In one clinical trial in Texas for the Pfizer vaccine, the data has revealed that one-third of the adult dose is the optimal range for children between 5 and 12. Another being held at Oxford University is seeing up to 150 participants aged 6-11 years and up to 150 participants aged 12-17 years taking part in its study. Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) had also had success in vaccinating children using smaller doses, Dr Lee said.
“It’s good news,” Dr Lee said. “It’s around the corner, it will be coming soon and a lot of people will be very pleased as they can keep their children safe.”
He said this was particularly good news for children who were most likely to suffer badly should they get Covid.
“I know the parents are particularly concerned about that,” he said.