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Getting Answers: When will younger kids be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine?

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Life has been different for 8-year-old Kya and 4-year-old Brayden Steele during the pandemic.

"They weren't able to see their friends and we weren't able to see a lot of family during the time, extracurricular activities got cut out," says their mom, Kelsey.

She works in healthcare and knows the importance of following precautions.

"We were very, very careful about who we saw, keeping the same people in our bubble."

Especially because Kya has bad asthma.

"We knew her lungs wouldn't be able to handle COVID," said Kelsey. "My biggest fear was to see her on a ventilator. That was something I did not want to see happen and she's been very prone in the past to getting pneumonia and bronchitis and croup."

Like so many parents, Kelsey is looking forward to the day Kya and Brayden can have extra protection against COVID-19, by getting a vaccine. But, doctors say that could take some time.

"First they have to figure out what the right dose is and just because we found a good dose for adults doesn't mean that's a good dose for children," says Dr. James Conway, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UW Health and the medical director of UW Health‘s immunization program.

He says it's promising what Pfizer found in vaccine trials for adolescents.

"They were only looking at symptomatic disease, but basically, all the 12 to 15 year olds who received the vaccine, zero got a detectable symptomatic COVID infection."

Dr. Conway says while middle and high school kids will likely be able get the vaccine this year, for younger kids, it will take longer.

"We're gonna have to work out dosing first for 6-11 year olds for a small group, then they'll move into larger groups to actually see how well it works at protecting against disease," said Dr. Conway. "Probably early 2022 is then when we would see the opportunity to immunize our littler ones."

So what does that mean for getting life back to normal? It may not be too far off for middle and high schoolers.

"I think the fall semester for them would look quite normal, especially now that the teachers have had the opportunity to be vaccinated now for many weeks," said Dr. Conway. "And then for the younger kids, unfortunately we're still gonna have to perform many of these mitigation things."

When it comes to kids like Kya with underlying conditions, Dr. Conway says the vaccine trials should include the impacts on them.

"We're very optimistic that it's gonna be very representative, because the last thing we want is a vaccine that's only approved for the healthy kids."

Kelsey says Kya is ready for the day she can get the vaccine. "When she learned that the vaccine was coming out and especially when I got mine, she had asked when she gets to get hers. She's very excited and I think she understands that when she gets it, more doors are gonna open up for her."

Amber Noggle

Anchor, 27 News at 5, 6 and 10

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