Key to COVID herd immunity: Getting children vaccinated

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

As governments push to move past the pandemic, vaccinating children is emerging as a key obstacle, along with initially limited supplies of vaccines.

Researchers say between 70% and 85% of a population would need to be protected through infection or vaccination to achieve herd immunity, the point when so many people are immune that the virus has nowhere to go and even those who aren’t immune have protection.

“It’s hard to do that just in terms of numbers if you’re not going to vaccinate kids,” said Adam Ratner, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital in New York.

Children and adolescents make up 22% of the U.S. population, according to the Census Bureau’s latest projections, and 18% of the population of the European Union.

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Drugmakers first tested Covid-19 vaccines in older ages. As a result, the shots have been authorized only for the oldest teenagers and adults so far.

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Pfizer said [March 25] it had begun evaluating its vaccine in children 6 months to 11 years.

Moderna is aiming to have its vaccine available for adolescents before the start of the 2021 school year and recently launched another trial with children as young as six months.

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