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January 8, 2021 • read
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for kids?
It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for — a vaccine for COVID-19 is ready. We can finally look forward to the end of quarantine, and the end of the pandemic.
No one is happier for this news than parents. Finally, schools can fully re-open, daycare can resume, and the house will be quiet for a moment.
Unfortunately, these peaceful dreams have to go on hold a bit longer. The vaccines currently being discussed in the news are for adults, not children. Children have a different physiology than adults, so they’ll require a vaccine that’s been approved especially for them.
What is the COVID-19 vaccine?
A vaccine is a type of medicine that introduces a non-harmful sample of a specific disease into your body. Your body produces antibodies to fight the invading pathogen, even though it’s already been neutralized in a lab. The next time you encounter the pathogen in daily life, in its fully-active form, your body will be able to fight it off before you get seriously sick.
The COVID-19 vaccine will have either an inactive or attenuated sample of the virus. Inactive means the virus sample was killed before incorporation into the vaccine. An attenuated sample of COVID-19 means the virus is still alive, but significantly weakened.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for expecting mothers?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine is not recommended for pregnant people. Vaccines have to go through extensive testing before they’re available to the public. The COVID-19 vaccines in the news, like from Pfizer and Moderna, haven’t been tested on pregnant people.
Data shows that pregnant people are at significantly higher risk for getting COVID-19, but are not at greater risk for death. Doctors have to be careful about vaccinating people in high-risk groups to manage the risk of side-effects versus the risk of contracting the illness.
When will a children’s COVID-19 vaccine be ready?
We already have a vaccine for adults, which is great news. But researchers still have to determine what dosage level is safe for children. This process is expected to take several months. The current guess is that a kid’s vaccine will be ready by late summer or fall 2021.
Why do vaccines need to be tested on children and teenagers?
Kids have been mostly left out of clinical trials so far. Researchers want to make sure their vaccines are safe and effective in adults before administering them to kids.
Young people are still growing and maturing. Their immune systems aren’t fully-developed, and they tend to have stronger immune reactions to vaccines.
If all the adults are vaccinated, will that provide herd immunity for children?
Herd immunity is when the majority of a population is immune from a specific disease, so it can’t spread easily. This can help protect more vulnerable members of the population who can’t receive vaccinations because of their immune systems.Through vaccinations, we’ve achieved herd immunity to diseases like smallpox and polio.
As with so much about COVID-19, we don’t know if herd immunity will be possible.
While the adult COVID-19 vaccine will be a great relief, it’s not a complete solution to the pandemic. Parents will still need to protect their kids from contracting COVID-19 and spreading it to other members of their community. We’ll have to wait and see if case numbers go down once the adult vaccine is given to the majority of eligible Canadians.
In the meantime, staying home and taking care of your health is of utmost importance. You can see a doctor online, 24/7, to get health advice, treatment, and prescriptions delivered right to your door.