ROCHESTER, MN-- Monday marks another key milestone against the virus as the vaccine will be made available to all people in the U.S. 16 and older.
According to the Mayo Clinic since the pandemic started 300 children have died from COVID-19.
"Some of these have been healthy children and so we can't yet clearly predict which child may be at risk for severe illness and which is not. So that is one of the reasons why we want to use any protective measure that we have," said Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic.
Protective measures such as vaccination, something pediatricians at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester say may soon be available for those 12 to 15 years old. Pfizer has recently released trial data to the FDA for that age group.
"That trial showed that the vaccine is very protective, 100 percent protective against symptomatic disease in teenagers. They generated a very robust antibody response to the vaccine. There were no safety issues identified so really exciting data for all of us in pediatrics," said Dr. Rajapakse.
Pediatricians at the Mayo clinic said they expect the FDA to approve emergency use vaccination for 12 to 15-year-olds by the return to school in the fall, but children under 12 may have to wait a little longer.
"Those trials are still enrolling and we anticipate we might have some information from those trials by the end of this year. So vaccine approval for that age group could be around 2022," said Dr. Rajapakse.
Once vaccinations open up for children under 16, pediatricians at the Mayo Clinic urge parents to vaccinate their children to prevent them from developing long-term symptoms should they get COVID-19.
"Some people who had a relatively mild initial; illness with COVID-19 can go on to develop more long-term lingering symptoms. You may have heard it be referred to as long COVID or COVID long haulers. That's a clinical syndrome that we are still learning more about," said Dr. Rajapakse.
But most importantly, Mayo Clinic's pediatricians say vaccinating children will be a huge step forward in achieving herd immunity.
"It's so important to get those kids vaccinated. 20% of the U.S. population is roughly children and we need roughly 75% to get to herd immunity. Kids are going to be key," said Dr. Joseph Poterucha, a Mayo Clinic Pediatrician.
For more information on vaccines and children, you can visit the Mayo Clinic's website here.