When will the vaccine be available for children?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Amid milestones as the nation battles the deadly pandemic, one million kids have now been infected with the virus.

This means hundreds of thousands of kids will deal with long-term impacts from COVID-19 and leads to more questions about whether kids will be able to take either of the vaccine’s that are poised for distribution.

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More than 24,000 kids have been infected in Tennessee, according to statistics from the Tennessee Department of Health.

Kids are known to have more mild cases because of stronger immune systems, but they’re still key in stopping the virus, said Dr. Sandy Arnold, Chief of pediatric and infectious diseases at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.

Arnold said about 133 kids have died in the country as a result of contracting COVID-19.

“There are children who are getting (severely) sick but it’s a very small number,” Arnold said.

According to the doctor, the number of children who end up in the ICU or have to stay in the hospital after contracting the virus is less than a tenth of a percentage point.

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She added that the long-term effects of COVID-19 look similar to those of adults.

“Some of them have very prolonged respiratory symptoms fatigue and weakness what people all brain fog,” Arnold said.

Within recent weeks, both Pfizer and Moderna announced their vaccine trials have shown 94 and 95 percent effectiveness. Neither included young children in initial trials, but Pfizer got approval from the Food and Drug Administration to do so two weeks before announcing the initial finding of its trials.

Pfizer studied the vaccine on children no younger than 12.

Both companies will soon seek emergency use authorizations from the FDA.

Arnold believed those will come without greenlighting the vaccines for children. With no clear vaccine candidate available for kids yet, that could be an important component of slowing the virus’ spread.

“Children will be an important part of breaking the chain of transmission,” she said.

Four companies, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson, are testing vaccine candidates. All four companies said they plan to open up trials for children, but have given no timelines on when they would do so.