First things first.…If you are concerned that your child may be showing symptoms of COVID-19, or, think that getting a vaccine for your child should be important, we encourage you to consult with your child’s pediatrician. As with all other medical questions, they will be able to give you the best insights.
That said, below is some helpful information on understanding if your child can get the COVID vaccine.
According to a fact checked article on Healthline.com, “Though adults may begin getting vaccinated against COVID-19 within a few weeks, it’ll likely be several months before a vaccine is approved and available for kids.”
Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Global Health and Infectious Diseases at Stanford, says “We want to be able to have a vaccine sometime in 2021 for children, as well as adults.” She expects to see a vaccine for kids in either the summer or fall of 2021.
In addition, Harvard Health Publishing reports that the following groups will be first in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine:
- Healthcare workers
- Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
- Essential workers
- Adults with underlying medical conditions that increase risk for the virus
- Adults over the age of 65
Why aren’t children on that list?
While many people may wonder or worry why children are not on that priority list, the good news from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is that “fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults.”
Distributors of vaccines are placing higher priority on those with higher risk. And thus far, children have shown to be at lower-risk than many other groups.
What to do in the meantime?
If you’re feeling impatient or frustrated with the timeline, here are a few insights to put the current pandemic in its proper perspective, and things you can do in the meantime to stay safe and have fun:
First, the history of vaccine timelines
Historically, vaccines take between 10-15 years to be developed for major diseases. That’s astonishing when you consider that the first vaccines for COVID-19 are available now, less than a year from the first lockdowns in the United States!
We hope that provides some helpful perspective for you.
Second, staying safe & having fun before you get a vaccine
Here are some quick and easy tips to make the most of your pre-vaccine wait:
1. The CDC recommends children 2 years and older wear a mask in public
2. Stay six feet apart from people who don’t live in the same household
3. Wash hands often
NOTE: Make a game or sing a song to encourage this kind of positive behavior! The children’s show Daniel Tiger teaches kids this little jingle about washing their hands after using the potty: If you have to go potty STOP and go right away… flush and wash and be on your way. It’s catchy and little ones remember it. And memorable works.
4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like carseats and counters
5. Use hand sanitizer when going out (i.e. after setting your child in a shopping cart)
6. Explore articles and activities you can engage your children with in quarantine, here
7. Finally, be mindful of how you communicate with your child about COVID-19
To expand on that last point:
A family in the midwest United States struggled to explain to their three-year old why he couldn’t see his cousin anymore when lockdowns hit in March. The cousin’s mother has Cystic-Fibrosis, so any potential exposure to COVID-19 could be life threatening.
Saddened that he couldn’t play with his cousins for the foreseeable future, the three-year old asked why. “Why can’t I play with my cousins, mommy?” The question seemed to come over and over again.
While there are no easy answers, the parents chose to “connect and redirect” their child:
“Well, there’s a bad sickness outside, and we don’t want to catch it or spread it so your cousins get hurt. Why don’t you and I go play with some toys right now, together?”
The connection with their child helped the three-year-old cope with the challenging circumstances, and it bonded them as a family.
When the time is right….
It’s very encouraging that the first vaccines are already being rolled out. And while you and your children may not be among the first to receive one, you can take comfort in knowing that the lack of urgency to get one to you is a positive sign that your risk of a life threatening experience with COVID-19 is low.