President Joe Biden’s Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children would be a “game changer” for students in the U.S.’s public school system, U.S. News reported.
Pfizer announced Monday that a smaller dose of its vaccine has generated an immune response in 5 to 11-year-old children during the clinical trial. The company said it plans to submit data for approval in the next few weeks.
“We know that vaccination eligibility for our elementary-aged students would be a game changer,” Cardona told U.S. News. “Not only would it help us keep our schools open and have less quarantining and closures, but it would also help parents breathe a lot easier and increase confidence in communities that their schools are safe.”
Pfizer enrolled 2,268 children 5-11 here. They used a "two-dose regimen of 10 µg administered 21 days apart, a smaller dose than the 30 used for people 12 and older."
The vaccine may be authorized for use in the US as early as late Oct.
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Cardona said giving the shot children would lessen the worry for educators and school leaders regarding closure and quarantine logistics, so they can instead focus on academic loss as a result of at-home learning during the pandemic.
“While we are always going to maintain health and safety as our No. 1 priority, this would allow us to shift to the social and emotional well-being of students and to the academic acceleration to make up for what was missed in the last year and a half,” Cardona told U.S. News.
The approval of the vaccine for elementary-aged students could alleviate the need to quarantine if students come in contact with a COVID-positive individual and help parents who juggled work while their kids went to school from home, U.S. reported.
“There is no single strategy that is 100 percent safe proof,” says Dr. Diego Hijano, an infectious disease expert at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee, U.S. News reported. “But certainly vaccination is one of the most important tools because it will protect the individual and give parents some relief of the anxiety that if their kid is vaccinated then the risk of infection and complication is very, very low. And also the possibility of that individual getting the virus and transmitting it will be lower.”
Cardona said plans are underway to establish vaccination sites at schools along with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as state health and education officials, U.S. News reported.
“It’s all hands on deck,” he said. “I breathed easier,” he said, after his children received their second COVID-19 vaccine dose. “I remember I took pictures. It is an emotional thing. And that just speaks to the fact that we are collectively holding our breath as a country.”