President Joe Biden is optimistic that vaccines for children under 12 years old could be available as early as August.
Biden made the statement during a town hall Wednesday in Cincinnati hosted by CNN. After speaking with scientists, Biden said, he wasn’t promised a specific date, but he did have an expectation.
“My expectation talking to the group of scientists we put together, over 20 of them, plus others in the field, is that sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, beginning of September, October, they’ll get a final approval,” he said.
That’s an unlikely timeline. Trials began in March for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for younger children. The results of the trials are expected in the fall, not within weeks.
Dr. Alejandra Gurtman, vice president of the Vaccine Clinical Research and Development at Pfizer, said an emergency use authorization was planned for the 5-to-11 age group in September or October during a presentation at a Johns Hopkins-University of Washington symposium on June 30. She said the 2- to 5-year-old group would follow soon after.
Children under 12 are still ineligible to receive the vaccine in the U.S., and Biden said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention probably will recommend that children who are not vaccinated wear masks in school.
“It’s going to get a little bit tight in terms of, well, are Mom or Dad being honest that Johnny did or did not get vaccinated? That’s going to raise questions,” Biden said. “It’s a matter of community responsibility.”
On July 9, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated children did not need to wear masks at school.
“Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority,” a press release from the CDC said.
On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics had a different opinion and recommended that all children older than 2, regardless of their vaccinations, should wear a mask.
Coronavirus cases have nearly tripled in the U.S. over the past two weeks. The delta variant of the virus, scientists say, is more contagious. A lambda variant was recently identified at a Houston-area hospital, but health experts said it doesn’t appear as contagious.
“I know there’s great interest in lambda, but I think people really need to be focused on delta,” said Dr. S. Wesley Long, Houston Methodist’s medical director of diagnostic biology. “Most importantly, regardless of the variant, our best defense against all these variants is vaccination.”
Our World Data reports that 49.3 % of Americans are fully vaccinated. During the town hall, Biden urged people to get the vaccine.
“We have a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten the vaccination – it’s that basic, that simple,” Biden said.
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Contributing: Ryan Miller
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.