As pandemic numbers continue to climb, we all hold out hope that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout will soon bring relief to the catastrophic loss of life, health, income and freedom that have marked the last 10 months.
Healthcare workers, teachers, essential workers and the elderly are first in line to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine. We asked East Valley pediatrician Dr. Natalie Teng for insights on the vaccine and when it is likely to reach Arizona kids.
Dr. Teng is a board-certified pediatrician who graduated from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois. Following her 2001-04 pediatric residency training at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, she served the community of Casa Grande for 14 years. A mother of three, Dr. Teng lives in Chandler and practices at Desert Shores Pediatrics, where she is on the COVID-19 Task Force.
When can parents expect vaccines might be available for children?
As we begin the process of vaccinating certain populations of adults for COVID-19, many question the timing of vaccinating children. Studying the vaccines in children is a separate process, and it will take months to determine the safety and dosing in teens, children and infants. Vaccines for children will not likely be available until the summer or fall of 2021.
How can parents have confidence that a COVID-19 vaccine developed at “warp speed” and originally intended for adults will be safe for children?
Due to funding designated for COVID-19 vaccine development, researchers have been able to find an effective and safe vaccine much faster than in the past. However, the most important parts of vaccine development have not been rushed. There are many strict protections in place to help ensure that COVID-19 vaccines will be safe.
Like all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines go through a rigorous, multi-stage testing process, including large trials that involve tens of thousands of people. These trials are specifically designed to identify any common side effects or other safety concerns. These same processes will be put in place when evaluating the vaccine safety and dosing for children. For these reasons, parents can have confidence that a COVID-19 vaccine that is approved for children will be safe and effective.
Arizona leads the nation in cases per capita. As of today, 574,680 Arizonans have tested positive for the virus; 9,444 people have died.
More than 119,000 frontline medical workers along with residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities have already received the COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona, and today representatives of those groups are receiving their second dose of the vaccine that boosts the effectiveness to an estimated 95 percent, said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, during a press conference.
AZDHS launched an online resource this week at azdhs.gov/findvaccine at which Arizonans can learn which phase in the vaccination rollout their county is in and how to get registered for vaccination.
Several local school districts have returned to fully online learning. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman is urging all districts to do the same for at least the first couple of weeks following winter break. “A two-week return to distance learning is needed to ensure safety and avoid further burdening our strained healthcare system during this surge of cases,” she wrote on Twitter.