Children and COVID-19

Common Questions from Parents

In the past 18 months, we all have experienced a lot of new challenges. Whether it be social distancing, adapting to remote work environments, encouraging masking, or witnessing the most extensive mass vaccination effort in history — one would think these obstacles encompass all the struggles we face. But there is a segment of the population often left out of the conversation when it comes to COVID-19 safety — and that is the nearly 50 million children in our country between the ages of 2-11. 

This segment of our population is also the group that is unvaccinated yet still in large group settings amid a variant outbreak. With the school year now in full swing, we wanted to answer the most common questions parents may have about their children’s safety and going back to school. 

Question 1: Why is it taking so long for vaccines to be approved for younger children, and when can we expect it?

For parents, the safety of your child is your number one concern. Likewise, the same could be said about researchers’ study of vaccines. Scientists are dedicated to ensuring that vaccines for children are highly safe and efficacious before administering them. 

Clinical trials for children ages 5-11 are currently in progress for all three vaccines. These trials occur in a step-down manner, meaning that once a vaccine is approved for children 5-11, researchers will begin trials for children 2-4. So far, out of the three vaccines in the U.S., the Pfizer vaccine is the closest to submitting authorization requests to the FDA. 

Both Pfizer and Moderna have noted that they are spending extra time reviewing data before submitting it to the FDA due to caution surrounding a single health concern called myocarditis. Myocarditis, while being extremely rare, is defined as the inflammation of the heart muscle. From those vaccinated, this issue has most commonly been seen among younger males in their teens and early 20s.

In CDC data from males vaccinated 12+, the cases of myocarditis per age group are as follows:

  • 12-29 years old: 40.6 cases per million vaccines administered (rate of occurrence: .00004%)
  • 30 and older: 2.4 cases per million vaccines administered (rate of occurrence: .000002)

Question 2: How dangerous is the virus to children under 12?

COVID-19 and its newer variant, Delta, still largely spare most children. While kids can be infected, most have asymptomatic or mild cases (for those who get mild cases, most recover within a week). While a majority of kids are spared, severe cases are rare but do exist. Currently, 1% of children infected will be hospitalized, and of those kids hospitalized, .1% will die from COVID.

  • Kids hospitalized from COVID: 1% = 1 in a 100 infections
  • Kids who die after hospitalization: .0001% = 1 in a 10,000 infections

Question 3: I am (or have been) pregnant. Does the vaccine pass on antibodies to the newborn through the placenta or breast milk?

This is an area where we are beginning to see preliminary data. A few weeks ago, the CDC, for the first time in the pandemic, strongly encouraged pregnant women to receive the vaccine after finding no evidence of adverse impacts to either the mother or baby. Furthermore, research now shows that the mother, after being fully vaccinated, does pass on antibodies through the placenta as well as in her breast milk. 

For more information on COVID and the vaccines, visit our COVID FAQs or Vaccine FAQs page.

Testing is critical in our fight against COVID-19

Keep your children safe and have them tested frequently.

Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harvard Medical, MIT Medical, John Hopkins Medical, The Mayo Clinic, and science reporter Emily Anthes from the New York Times.