Covid vaccine for elementary school children is likely to arrive in 2022

Students in Saundra Murphys third grade class participate in silent reading at the beginning of class on the first day of instruction at Weaverville Elementary School on Monday, August 17, 2020 in Weaverville, CA.

Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | fake images

Children of primary school age will likely be able to receive Covid-19 vaccines early next year, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Fauci, the government’s top epidemiologist, said studies are already underway looking at the safety of vaccines for younger children.

“If you project realistically, when will we be able to get enough data to be able to say that elementary school children will be able to get vaccinated, I think it would be, at the earliest, at the end of the year, and most likely the first quarter of 2022,” Fauci said .

Federal regulators have approved three Covid-19 vaccines to help fight the pandemic. Two vaccines, those made by Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, are approved for adults 18 years of age and older.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be given to people 16 years of age and older, although at this time eligibility for youth is strictly restricted to those who meet certain criteria, such as underlying medical conditions.

Vaccinating children could help states and localities open schools and return to classroom teaching safely. Fewer children than adults have gotten sick with Covid-19, but they can still contract the virus, become seriously ill and pass it on to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fauci said high school students will likely be able to receive vaccinations at the beginning of the school year in the fall.

“I’m not sure it’s exactly the first day the school opens, but pretty close to that,” he said.

To date, more than 72 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the US, according to data from the CDC. About one in five adults has received at least one dose and about one in 10 adults has received two.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine was approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday, and is expected to accelerate the campaign to inoculate all Americans. The federal government aims to distribute four million doses next week.

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