Grand Strand doctor weighs in on child vaccine trials, crucial factor in herd immunity

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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Researchers started testing the vaccine in teens after completing adult vaccine trials and are now working their way down to younger age groups.

Medical experts say vaccinating children is vital in getting kids back to in-person learning in the fall. But, whether results can see that quick of a turnaround is unknown.

Pfizer said last week it started testing its COVID-19 vaccine in young children six months to 11 years old.

The process has researchers testing various doses in different age groups.

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccine trials aim to determine if vaccines can protect kids from becoming sick if exposed to the virus.

Two-thirds of children that are a part of the vaccine trial will receive the vaccine, and the others will receive a placebo.

After a six-month follow-up, those who received the placebo will be eligible for the vaccine.

For kids 12 years and older, medical experts are hopeful to see a vaccine licensed around the fall of the 2021-2022 school year.

“There’s probably going to be a lot of information in the next few months about this, and I mean hopefully we will have a clearer picture before school starts back, that’s hopefully the case,” Dr. Paul Richardson, VP Medical Affairs/Conway Medical Center, said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children make up about 13-percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

While children appear to be at lower risk of contracting COVID-19 than adults, medical experts say vaccinating children is essential for two reasons: to protect them from the virus, and to help reach community-wide protection known as “herd immunity.”

“That gets us to a level of what we refer to and what I’m sure folks are familiar with of herd immunity, where a large group of us are immune, and then that will slow down dramatically if not stop the disease,” Dr. Richardson said.

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