Children’s cases of Covid-19 are on the rise again as schools prepare to reopen. But the vaccines for the youngest are still months away

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said on Tuesday that more than 23,550 child cases of Covid were reported between July 8 and July 15, nearly double what was reported at the end of June. Children’s age ranges vary by state, according to the group’s most recent report, with more than half of the states defining children as anyone 19 years of age or younger, and two states – Utah and Florida – limiting the range to anyone 14 years of age or younger.

“So many people, unvaccinated individuals, are getting Delta that the kids are trained with, and I think that’s going to make things very difficult as the school year begins,” Dr Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said Tuesday.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also stressed on Tuesday the need to take the virus – and its threat to children – seriously.

“I think we are falling into this misconception of saying that only 400 of those 600,000 deaths from Covid-19 have occurred in children,” CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “Children aren’t supposed to die. So 400 is a huge amount for the respiratory season.”

No Covid-19 vaccine has yet been given the green light for Americans under 12. And while pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna are conducting clinical trials, it will likely be months before young children can get vaccinated.

Vaccine data for the youngest is probably still months away

It is “very likely” that data on Covid-19 vaccines in children under 12 will be available in late fall or early winter, said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the ‘National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during the Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.

“But that doesn’t mean it is all of a sudden going to be allowed to happen,” he said. “This will be a regulatory decision that the FDA will have to make.”

Why a Covid-19 vaccine is not yet available for children

Late last week, Fauci told CNN’s Jim Acosta that he believes a US Food and Drug Administration decision “is unlikely to happen until we get into winter, around the time. end of this year “.

Pfizer’s 5-11 year data from its vaccine study could arrive in September, and depending on the results, the company previously told CNN it could seek emergency use clearance from the FDA. the same month.

Data for 2- to 5-year-olds could arrive soon after, while for babies and toddlers – 6 months to 2 years – Pfizer said it could potentially get data in October or November and ask FDA to clear emergency use shortly. after that.

Moderna had previously refused to provide CNN with a timeline on when he might have the results of test data for his study of the children’s vaccine.

A social distancing sign hangs at Morris K. Hamasaki Elementary School in Los Angeles on July 1.

Many eligible children still not vaccinated

With a significant number of students still not allowed to be vaccinated, the AAP on Monday released new guidelines recommending universal masking in schools for all ages 2 and up, regardless of vaccination status.
Why these parents proposed their young children for Covid-19 vaccine trials
The group’s position is stricter than guidelines from the CDC, which recommended earlier this month that masks be worn indoors by anyone 2 years of age and older who is not fully vaccinated.

But health experts agree that the more children vaccinated, the safer the return to school will be.

“I think it’s extremely important that our schools are open for full in-person learning in the fall,” Walensky said at Tuesday’s hearing. And the “most important thing” Americans can do to help, she said, is get vaccinated.

“The best thing would be to vaccinate everyone who can be vaccinated,” she added. “Surround unvaccinated children who are not yet eligible with vaccinated people to protect them. “

Pediatricians' Group says all children should wear masks in school, but some states block such warrants
Of about 25 million children aged 12 to 17 in the United States, about 8.9 million have started their Covid-19 vaccination, according to CDC data.

Having to figure out which kids are vaccinated and who should wear masks “places a lot of burden” on schools, an expert said, and having mask warrants for everyone – especially as the Delta variant is circulating – would be easier. as students return to school, an expert told CNN on Tuesday.

“You’re going to have a lot of kids under the age of 12 who don’t even have the chance to get the vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. . “So I think the kids are at risk. I think if people have 10 or 11 year old children they think there is no vaccine, I think my child will be at risk. “

“If I were the parent of a child of this age, I would like all these children to wear masks,” he added.

Official expects ‘significant’ outbreaks in schools

Despite recommendations from experts, some states have already enacted legislation banning districts from requiring masks in schools – creating a new round of potential clashes between health and local leaders across the country.
Among those states is Arkansas, where Law 977 says receiving a Covid-19 vaccine “will not be a condition of education.”
California makes 180 mandate on school masks as state rules vary according to latest CDC guidelines

The state’s top health official said on Tuesday he expected to see “significant epidemics within the school system.”

“What already tells me that this is going to happen is the number of daycare closures that have occurred due to epidemics, and the exposures and camp closures that are occurring,” said Dr Jose Romero, health secretary for the Arkansas health department, said in a US News and World Report event on vaccine inequalities and misinformation. “What I try to do in public and in private with my own patients is to emphasize the importance of the mask.”

The state has a large children’s hospital which has already seen a “significant number” of children with Covid-19, Romero said, which, coupled with cases of other respiratory viruses, has put a strain on them. institution resources.

“In three weeks, when we start school, it will get worse, and that’s what concerns me a lot,” Romero said.

CNN’s Jen Christensen, John Bonifield, Sarah Braner, Virginia Langmaid and Madeline Holcombe contributed to this report.

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