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While there are currently more than 38 COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials for adults—including three in Phase 3 trials already—there are so far no pediatric vaccines in the works.

Why not? And can’t kids just receive a lower dose of an adult vaccine? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Children’s bodies differ from adults in critical ways that can affect how their bodies react, both to illness and to a vaccine. Pediatric vaccines need to be carefully developed and tested to make sure they’re both safe and effective for young bodies. And even though the march toward a COVID-19 vaccine is moving much more quickly than previous vaccines, drugmakers aren’t going to cut corners when it comes to ensuring safety for recipients of all ages. That means we’ll have to keep waiting for a pediatric vaccine—and it might not even be here in time for next school year.

That sounds bad, but don’t panic. First, remember that even with a safe and effective vaccine, COVID-19 isn’t likely to disappear entirely anytime soon. We’ll still need to continue being vigilant and following recommended safety precautions, like wearing masks, hand-washing, and social distancing. With enough adults vaccinated, transmission rates will hopefully come down enough to protect children—and anyone else who can’t be vaccinated—as well. And as parents, we should try to keep our worries in perspective: We know that children are at relatively low risk of severe disease from COVID-19. So while scientists will hopefully develop vaccines that are effective for all ages, it’s most important that Grandma and Grandpa get the protection they need first.

Meanwhile, it’s crucial that families protect themselves against other viruses as much as possible—which means getting those flu shots before Halloween! (Some states, like Massachusetts, are now mandating flu shots for all school-aged children, even those attending school remotely.)

Stay informed: If you’re interested in the latest updates on COVID-19 during pregnancy and in infants, check out Dr. Marta Perez (@dr.martaperez) on Instagram.

“Children’s bodies differ from adults in critical ways that can affect how their bodies react, both to illness and to a vaccine. Pediatric vaccines need to be carefully developed and tested to make sure they’re both safe and effective for young bodies.”

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