“It is conceivable that shots will be in the guns by Halloween, but it will take a few weeks for that process to be completed,” said Dr. James Hildreth, an FDA vaccine advisor, told Don. from CNN Lemon Monday.
That process is happening because the second highest number of new cases in children were reported last week and cases in that group continue to grow exponentially, according to data released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In Pittsburgh, UPMC Children’s Hospital officials said they are seeing a “historic” number of children coming to the emergency room. A tent was set up outside the emergency room on Friday to accommodate more patients, the hospital said in a social media post.
Currently, the youngest Americans to be vaccinated are 12 year olds, and the vaccination rate of teenagers is still nearing half, according to a CNN analysis of data from the CDC.
Studies for younger children are currently ongoing, and Pfizer / BioNTech announced in a press release Monday that a phase 2 of 3 study showed their two-dose vaccine is safe and one in children between 5 and 11 years old Causes “robust” antibody response.
Expanding access to vaccines would be important for all to both protect children and end the impact of the virus on the US, said Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
“If we are serious about stopping this epidemic in the United States, we must ultimately have vaccinated 85-90% of the US population,” Hotez said. “They are all adults, all adolescents and many small children.”
But there is still a major challenge ahead of us: getting the doses into the arms of the children, said CNN medical analyst Dr. Johnathan Reiner.
While some parents are happy to have their children vaccinated, others are more reluctant.
“While it seems like a guarantee that parents will give their children this vaccine, we need to educate a very diverse group of Americans much better that this vaccine is safe and effective,” he said.
But while health professionals are talking to families about the decision, CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, she thinks it’s okay that some parents aren’t ready yet.
“I understand some of them may not want to go first,” Wen said. “There is another group of parents who are really eager and would do anything to have their children vaccinated. Let them go first.”
Changes in school policy
As the vaccine process goes on, schools navigate how to manage student safety on campus.
On Monday, new quarantine protocols for students and faculty at Miami-Dade County Public Schools went into effect, reducing the quarantine time for employees and high school students exposed to Covid-19 from 10 days to 5 days as long as they test negative and are symptom-free.
Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said masks will continue to be required for all teachers and students, but indicated that they will continue to look after them as the year progresses.
“These are metrics that we bring to our task force … to act as gatekeepers for further loosening of the protocols,” he said.
New York City officials also shortened the quarantine period for exposed students, allowing masked unvaccinated students in a classroom to waive quarantine if there was exposure in the classroom and they were three feet away.
However, starting next week, schools will increase student tests to once a week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Boosters could be expanded to more populations, says Fauci
Doses of booster vaccines were another consideration to increase protection against the virus, and while the population for whom approval is being considered to receive them is limited, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said the group could expand.
The FDA’s vaccine advisors voted on Friday to recommend approving a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine for people over 65 and those at high risk for severe Covid-19 in an emergency. The FDA has yet to follow this recommendation.
But Fauci told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the FDA will track incoming data from the US and Israel in real time and adjust all approvals accordingly.
“The diminishing protection, especially against serious illness in younger groups, would lead the FDA to look into this and see if they want to extend the recommendation to much younger than 65,” said Fauci.
With that data coming in, “I think it is likely that we will see an increasingly widening recommendation for the boosters for these people in the coming weeks,” said Fauci.
Those who received the Moderna or a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their primary vaccine “were not forgotten,” noted Fauci.
“The data associated with the boosters on these people will be presented to the FDA in a couple to three weeks, I think,” he said. “They will test it the same way as before, and hopefully they will get a recommendation that will do justice to the people who received different products in their vaccination regimen.”
CNNs Jen Christensen, Jacqueline Howard, Amanda Sealy, Lauren Mascarenhas, Elizabeth Stuart, Kristina Sgueglia