Children could be able to get COVID-19 vaccine by next school year, Tampa Bay health experts say


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Medical experts in Tampa Bay are shedding light on when a vaccine could be available for children.

“My concern is for his health and safety,” said Laura McCrary.

McCrary has kept her 17-year-old son out of school this year due to the pandemic. Instead, her son learns from home.

“He has severe asthma when he gets sick. The last time he was sick, I had to take him to the ER,” she said. “I would prefer to have him vaccinated before sending him back to school. He misses being around kids.”

Currently in Florida, only frontline workers and certain eligible individuals can get the vaccine.

As of now, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for kids 16 and older. Several clinical trials are underway for children but, so far, no vaccines are approved.

“Just as it should be readily available to school employees, it should be readily available to school age children,” Polk Education Association President Stephanie Yocum said.

As a parent of a toddler who has medical issues, Yocum hopes the vaccine is available for children soon.

“He is prone to upper respiratory infections because he was premature,” Yocum said of her 3-year-old son.

“It’s becoming more and more of a hot topic. They want to know, especially when there are children with medical problems, when are they going to fit in, when are they going to be able to be immunized. The quick easy answer is, we just don’t know just yet,” Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Perno said. “I’m confident based on what we’ve seen already, there’s no reason to believe it will be any different with the safety and children, but we need to study it. We need to look at it and make sure there are no side effects.”

Dr. Perno said a vaccine could be approved for children by the next school year.

“My best guess is summertime. I’m really hoping and looking forward to – by next August, September – when it’s time for the kids to go back to school,” Dr. Perno said. “Whether it’s 12 and above or five and above, whatever that age range might be.”

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