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Talk To Us: COVID Questions

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
A 12-year-old boy receives a shot during a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine trial at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

BPR is answering listener queries about the coronavirus in a new segment – Talk To Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.

Our question this week comes from Claire Shippey of Asheville.

“I have two school aged children under the age of 16. My kids would love to be back in school full time, and they would love to have more extracurricular opportunities, including going to summer camp this summer. Where are pharmaceutical companies on getting the vaccines approved for kids under the age of 16?”

To find out we asked Dr. Peyton Thompson, a pediatric infectious disease physician at UNC Chapel Hill. 

“Both Moderna and Pfizer are enrolling children down to age 12 in trials, and we should expect the results of these trials in the coming months,” says Thompson. “So, by spring of 2021, we should have approval for these vaccines.  But  that does not necessarily mean vaccines will go into arms in spring of 2021. "   

Peyton Thompson MD, MSCR Assistant Professor Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina

"Realistically, I don't think that vaccines will go into the arms of children down to age 12 until fall or later in 2021. And this is because we are having issues with distribution -  just so many adults to vaccinate before we can get down to the child age groups.”

“I definitely think that vaccines are our hope for the future and for an end to this pandemic, but they are not everything. And so, I think case-by-case scenarios can be considered for summer camps and parents can weigh the risks and benefits and ensure that mask wearing is in place along with distancing and preferring outdoor camp over indoor ones. That sort of thing can go into those decisions, which I know -  it's really tough to decide these things, but parents can talk to their pediatricians about questions and talk to the local public health authorities as well.”

Do you have a COVID question you'd like answered? Record a voice memo and send it to voices@bpr.org or use the talk to us feature on the free BPR mobile app. I'm Helen Chickering BPR news.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.