The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the use of COVID-19 vaccines in children younger than age 12.
Cases among America’s youth are increasing with a 31 percent increase in kids testing positive last week over the week before.
With schools across the country starting to enter a new year, the AAP says authorizing vaccines is vital to prevent outbreaks in classrooms.
Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available to children aged 12 and older, although the companies plan to submit their vaccine for approval for children aged five years or older in the coming months.
The FDA has told Pfizer to expand its trials for the vaccine in young children before they can receive approval.
Dr Lee Savio Beers (pictured), president of the AAP, is urging the FDA to approve the COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of 12
Currently, children under the age of 12 are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines. Pictured: A young girl receives the COVID-19 vaccine in Longwood, Florida
Nearly 94,000 American children tested positive for COVID-19 last week, up 31% from the nearly 72,000 the previous week (above)
‘We need to be approaching the trials and authorization of the Covid vaccine for children with the same urgency that we did with adults,’ Dr Lee Savio Beers, president of the AAP, told ABC.
‘Just as it’s a serious disease in adults, it can be a very serious disease in children.’
Beers also published an open letter to Acing FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock last week, urging her agency to fast-track the vaccine for younger children.
‘I write to urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to continue working aggressively towards authorizing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 12 as soon as possible,’ she wrote.
‘Pediatricians and the families they care for have been anxiously awaiting a vaccine that can be used in children 11 years of age and younger, and especially so now given the rise of the hyper infectious Delta variant.
‘The Delta variant is surging at extremely alarming rates in every region of America. This surge is seriously impacting all populations, including children.’
Cases across the U.S. have grown by 214 percent over the past three weeks in an Indian ‘Delta’ variant fueled surge of cases – from 37,056 to 116,722 on Tuesday.
The country eclipsed the 100,000 daily case average for the first time since February earlier this month.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top leading infectious disease expert, said that figure could hit 200,000 in the near future.
Last week, children accounted for 15 percent of new COVID-19 cases, and there was a 31 percent increase in cases among the youth with nearly 94,000 testing positive last week.
Schools are also set to soon return amid this Covid surge, opening the potential for cases to rise among the countries youth.
While children are unlikely to die from the virus, or suffer from a severe case, there is potential for them to suffer some conditions long term like ‘long haul Covid’, myocarditis – heart inflammation – anosmia or more.
Children infected with the virus can also spread the virus to parents, teachers, staff and others.
The vaccine could prevent children from potentially suffering from these conditions, though, and Beers believes the FDA delaying vaccine approval could hurt some kids.
‘In addition, as FDA continues to evaluate clinical trial requirements for children under 5 years, we similarly urge FDA to carefully consider the impact of its regulatory decisions on further delays in the availability of vaccines for this age group,’ she wrote.
‘…Waiting on a 6-month follow-up will significantly hinder the ability to reduce the spread of the hyper infectious COVID-19 Delta variant among this age group, since it would add 4 additional months before an authorization decision can be considered.’
The AAP’s push for vaccines for children come as controversy surrounds the return to school this fall.
After studies found that virtual schooling had damaging effects on children’s mental health, school districts across the country are making sure in-person learning occurs this time around.
How to do so safely, and realistically, has been a point of controversy, though.
Fauci said earlier this week that he supports school districts mandating teachers and other staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to the classroom.
‘I’m going to upset people on this but I think we should [mandate vaccines for teachers],’ Fauci told MSNBC.
‘I mean, we are in a critical situation now. We have had 615,000 deaths and we are in a major surge now as we’re going into the fall, into the school season. This is very serious business.’
Some states are going the opposite direction, though.
Florida Gov Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold funding from schools that implement mask mandates.
Texas Gov Greg Abbot also banned the use of mask mandates in schools.
Both governors are receiving legal pushback, with counties and individual schools threatening to defy the governors’ orders.
Currently, 59 percent of Americans have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and half of the population is fully vaccinated.