Surgeon General: ‘Odds are high’ vaccine for kids under 12 will be approved in upcoming school year
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy this week said there’s a high likelihood that a vaccine for children under the age of 12 will be approved during the next school year.
No vaccines are available yet for children under the age of 12. Pfizer-BioNTech, currently the only company that has an authorized vaccine for adolescents age 12 to 15, announced in June that it was beginning to test the effectiveness of its vaccine for those under 12 years old.
Interest in vaccines for young children has increased in recent weeks as parents and educators begin preparing for schools to reopen in the fall.
The American Academy of Pediatrics last month recommended that all students older than the age of 2 wear masks in the classroom, regardless of their vaccination status.
Murthy, during the podcast interview, also discussed the overall state of the pandemic as the number of infections continues to rise, largely because of the highly infectious delta variant, which is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Murthy said health officials are calling this phase of the pandemic the “delta wave.” He called the situation “exhausting,” but noted that the country is “at a very different place now than we were last year when we were dealing with the waves” because of the availability of vaccines.
“I recognize just how exhausting this is. We hoped there would be just one wave, and then there was another wave, and then there was another wave in January, and now we’re dealing with the delta wave,” Murthy said.
He added that health officials are “not sure” about when the delta wave will peak.
Murthy said it is relatively safe to say that the U.S. is “still in the upward portion of the trajectory of this latest surge,” and predicted that the country will “likely hear numbers that will be really concerning over the next few weeks.”
“We will likely see cases continue to go up for days more, and likely for several weeks more. When they will peak, and at what level it will peak, we’re not sure,” he said.
The number of hospitalizations and deaths, however, will “likely not surge” to the same levels that were recorded in January because of the existence of vaccines.
A number of health experts are sounding the same note, contending that it is difficult to predict when the delta variant will peak because of the unpredictable factor of human behavior.
Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, on Wednesday said the U.S. could see as many as 200,000 daily COVID-19 cases in the fall.
Murthy during the podcast interview said that if more people had gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 “we may not be seeing the kind of surge we’re seeing right now. We may not have to necessarily put masks back on in public indoor spaces, we may feel even better, you know, about our kids going to school in the fall.”
The White House on Monday announced that 70 percent of adults have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, a benchmark that the administration was originally hoping to reach by July 4.
More than 165 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, translating to 49.8 percent of the total population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.