DeKalb, IL — Vaccine authorization for young people could be delayed after the lack of children signing up for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trial.
The Pfizer-BioNTech has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for 16- to 17-year-olds, as well as adults. But, Moderna has only tested its vaccine on adults.
"It's really very important for all of us, for all the population in America, to realize that we can't have that indication unless adolescents aged 12 to 18 decide to participate," said Moncef Slaoui, the scientific head of Operation Warp Speed, the government's vaccine effort, according to Yahoo News.
Slaoui said the Moderna trial for adults typically tests 800 adult volunteers a day, while the teen trial only gets 800 volunteers a month.
Teens typically don’t get serious cases of COVID-19, but they can get sick and pass the virus that causes the disease. Cities with large colleges or universities that held in-person classes saw a 56% increase in COVID-19 cases after classes started.
Dr. Robert Frenck Jr., director of the Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said he's not surprised that enrollment so far has been slow in Moderna's trial.
"Whenever you move into a new age group for a vaccine/drug, it takes a bit of time to build momentum," he said via email, according to Yahoo News.
While COVID-19 may not have serious life-threatening implications for a lot of teens, they are "bearing a disproportionate burden of the overall pandemic impact," said Dr. Lee Savio Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a professor of pediatrics at Children's National Hospital. "We should not forget that."
If vaccine distribution companies can stick to current schedules, both vaccines may be available to younger people before the start of the 2021-22 school year, though it’s still unclear when they would be authorized for use in younger children.