A nurse gives a woman a flu shot at a free clinic held at a local library in Lakewood, California on October 14, 2020.
Mario Tama | Getty Images
Children and teenagers could get a Covid-19 vaccine in the second half of next year, an advisor to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
Dr. Jose Romero, chairman of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, hopes studies to test Covid-19 vaccines in young children will begin in the second quarter of 2021. If the vaccines prove safe and effective, children under the age of 18 could get their shots in the second half of next year, he said.
"I don't think we'll see it in the first half of next year," he said during an interview on MSNBC, adding that children could get a vaccine before the fall semester. "We need to see how the studies go. We need to see this data to make sure it is safe and effective in children."
A vaccine cannot be distributed to children until it has been rigorously tested in clinical trials in children.
Pfizer, who filed an emergency application for its coronavirus vaccine with the Food and Drug Administration on November 20, is already testing children ages 12 and up.
Moderna, which filed an emergency application for its vaccine earlier this week, is preparing to test at least 3,000 children aged 12 and over, according to a publication on clinicaltrials.gov. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC on Monday that the company expects to test its vaccine on children 11-17 years old later this year. But he added that testing on children under 11 wouldn't begin until next year.
"For younger children, the age has to go down very slowly and you have to start with a lower dose to make sure it's safe," he said during an interview on Squawk Box.
Romero's comments came three days after his committee voted 13: 1 to prioritize the first doses of vaccine for health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, infectious disease scientists and experts have debated who will be vaccinated first and how the limited first vaccine doses will be distributed in the US. Minister of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told CNBC on Nov. 16 that about 40 million doses of vaccine will be available by the end of this year, which is enough to vaccinate about 20 million people, given the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two shots.
Medical experts have previously advocated that healthcare workers get the vaccine first, followed by vulnerable Americans, including the elderly, people with pre-existing medical conditions, and key workers. Children and young adults who are less at risk of developing serious illnesses are expected to receive the vaccine last.
During the meeting, CDC officials also said there is currently no data on how pregnant women will react to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which use messenger RNA or mRNA technology. About 75% of healthcare workers are women, and 330,000 of them are pregnant, according to a presentation at the meeting.
Officials said they plan to provide more guidance to pregnant women once the data from the third phase of the study is fully reviewed.