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When can children get the COVID-19 vaccine?

James D. Campbell, MD, MS, FAAP

Answer

When can children get the COVID-19 vaccine?

​​​With vaccines now available to protect against COVID-19, we've made a big step toward ending the pandemic.

Three vaccines have received emergency use authorization for adults, and one can also be given to teens age 12 and older. Clinical trials are now underway in children as young as six months old.

Research shows the vaccines are remarkably effective and safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) ​urges​ children and adults to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them. This is especially important with a rise in cases caused by variant strains of the virus, which seem to be more contagious.​

Clinical trials for children

Before COVID-19 vaccines become available for younger children, clinical trials need to be completed. This is to ensure they are safe and effective for these age groups. Children are not little adults; we can't just assume a vaccine will have the same effect on a child as it does for someone older. Once this information is available, the AAP will review it and make vaccine recommendations for children and adolescents.

Can students be fully immunized before the 2021-22 school year?

Middle-school, high-school, and college students who get both doses of the vaccine now authorized for age 12 and up (Pfizer) can be fully immunized by the 2021-22 school​ year. The timing for when the vaccine will be available for younger students ​depends on the results of the clinical trials. But based on the current pace of research, it may be possible to have a vaccine for children in grade school and preschool later this year.

Will a COVID-19 vaccine be required for school entry?

Once a vaccine is approved, health authorities, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the AAP, will recommend when and how children should get it. However, each state's government decides which vaccines are required for school entry.

In the meantime, make sure your children are caught up on their vaccinations against measles, influenza, whooping cough, and any others that your pediatrician recommends.

One thing is certain: The COVID-19 vaccine is our best hope for ending the pandemic. We look forward to the day when children can spend time with friends, travel ​with their families, and enjoy their communities safely.

More information

James D. Campbell, MD, MS, FAAP

​James D. Campbell, MD, MS, FAAP, a pediatric infectious disease specialist based in Maryland, serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. ​

Last Updated
6/14/2021
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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