In just a few short weeks, new breakthroughs have been made regarding the COVID vaccine as on May 11th, 2021, the FDA authorized that the Pfizer vaccine can be given to kids aged 12-15 after a trial lasting several months. The trial consisted of 2,200 adolescents and found a one hundred percent effectiveness rate in the third phase of the experiment. 91 percent of participants experienced mild side effects similar to those in older age groups. The Center for Disease Control voted on the approval of the shot the following day with a tally of 14-0 in approval, and kids in some states were able to be vaccinated as soon as Thursday. Despite the fact that the initial belief was that the majority of young people would not get severely sick from COVID, a rare inflammatory disease known as MIS-C that appears to be a result of the coronavirus is a growing concern, so this new availability comes as a relief to millions of parents. President Biden still called the advancement “one more giant step in our fight against the pandemic”. People under the age of 18 make up at least 20 percent of the United States population, making this an important step in achieving herd immunity and reopening the country, especially schools, with fewer restrictions. On the heels of this news, the makers of the Johnson and Johnson shot announced that they are planning to test the vaccine in individuals under 18, and that could be approved as early as September. They are also planning separate trials for pregnant women and immunocompromised people, but even further strides in vaccinating kids are being made by Moderna, which is beginning a trial with Yale to test its vaccine on children as young as 6 months old.
The vaccines will be delivered directly to pediatrician’s offices, but it is important to note that the CDC does not officially endorse using COVID vaccine appointments to catch up on other immunizations as well since the effects of this have not been well-researched. Officials believe it’s likely there will be an uptick in attempts to do this as kids can now be vaccinated in increasing age groups and will require other vaccinations for school settings.
Despite how things are looking up as a result of these new developments, vaccine rollout has hit a slump as millions of willing Americans have already been vaccinated and health professionals are left with the challenge of convincing those who are hesitant or flat out refuse to get vaccinated to do so. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about one in five adults say they will wait until more is known about the long-term effects of the COVID vaccines or only get one if it becomes required. Up to 13 percent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t get one at all. These percentages are likely at least partially a result of the controversy surrounding the Johnson and Johnson vaccine when 6 cases of rare blood clots known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis clots, or CVST clots, were first reported in mid-April. These clots cause a condition known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or Vaccine-induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia, a term coined relatively recently as a result of the Johnson and Johnson concerns. The term refers to blood clots as a result of a lowered platelet count in the blood, and when one woman died from this it resulted in a temporary pause in the rollout of the J&J vaccine for several days. At the time of the pause, 6.8 million people had received the vaccine, meaning only one in a million people had the side effect of the CVST clots. As of May 14th, 2021, the numbers surrounding these clots have climbed to 28 clots and 3 deaths over a total of 8.7 million shots administered. However, a CNN analysis showed that there is up to 40 times more risk of dying from COVID-19 than the CVST clots.
As of June 12th, 2021, 144 million people, or 43 percent of the American population, have been fully vaccinated, and as of May 5th, 2021 up to 45 percent of the population has received at least one dose of one of the two-dose vaccines according to the Center of American Progress.