COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Expands To Include Children Ages 5-11

Grace Ryan, News Editor

More children are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo/Getty Images)

Ever since the COVID-19 vaccine received emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 11, 2020, those eligible for vaccines and the approval of boosters has greatly widened its scope. The passing of vaccines for ages five to 11 has been long awaited and is finally here as well as an increase in booster availability. 

On Nov. 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved Pfizer’s shot for kids aged five to 11. The CDC took longer to approve it because there had not been enough studies to test the safety and effectiveness, like there had been for teenagers 12 and older.  Over the past few months families with children have been encouraged to wear masks even if they are vaccinated amid rising infection numbers in order to protect the unvaccinated in their households. Now with children eligible, parents’ fears can be alleviated. 

According to a case study investigated by the FDA, the vaccine proved about 91% effective for ages five to 11. Despite studies, many parents are hesitant to get their kids their shots because of worries that the vaccine is too new and there is not enough research. Many argue that the vaccine is not even needed because children’s cases tend to be less severe. However, health professionals still argue that children need to be protected with cases still high because of school environments. Between the weeks Oct. 21 to Nov. 4, there was a 3% increase in the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in children since the beginning of the pandemic. 

If students aged five to 11 get the vaccine, it could allow many schools to remove their mask mandates, including Walpole. Massachusetts will reevaluate school mask mandates in the start of the new year and vaccinations have the potential to change the mandate since kids who get the vaccine in the month of November will be fully vaccinated before the new year. Walpole is set to host a vaccine clinic on Nov. 20 and 21 for newly eligible children with the follow-up dose two weeks later. Children’s ability to get vaccinated has the ability to bring Walpole and other towns around the state back to more normalcy—especially at school. 

Not only does greater eligibility for vaccines bring the nation closer to normalcy, but the start of boosters ensures that our nation is able to stay safe without the return of a major outbreak. Mixing vaccines is permitted but eligibility differs for each company’s vaccine. Those who initially received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are only allowed to get their boosters six months after their second shot. For right now, in order to be eligible one must be at least 65 years of age. Those who are at least 18 years old are only eligible if they work in a high risk setting or long-term care setting or if they have an underlying medical condition. Everyone who initially received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are eligible for a vaccine booster two months after their initial dose no matter their background. Nobody under 18 years old is currently eligible for vaccines. 

The mix of more people eligible for vaccines and more people getting boosters, the United States should become safer and less vulnerable to another outbreak. According to the White House, almost one million children under 11 years old already had received their first dose as of Nov. 10 that means that schools will become safer and a removal of mask mandates could be on the horizon.