The race is on for approval of a vaccine for teenagers. Both Pfizer and Moderna are conducting trials to see if the already approved vaccines are effective for those 12-17 years old. Experts say, physically and mentally, this group definitely needs a vaccine.
“We know the transmission can occur in adolescence and they don’t seem to have the same kind of protective benefit younger children have,” said UCSF Dr. George Rutherford.
The doctor says he’s hearing the results of the testing could be available as early as May.
A positive report would give an added boost to reopening middle and high schools. And that reopening needs to happen for the mental health of teenagers, says Dr. Jeanne Noble, director of COVID-19 response at the UCSF emergency department.
“So a lot of kids verbalize that isolation, not being able to see their peers, not being able to go to school is a cause for their distress although we don’t have exact numbers on that,” she said.
Noble is referring to a study of medical records of 10-17 year olds from children’s hospitals in Oakland between March and October of last year.
They showed a 66% increase in the number of recently or actively suicidal children and a 75% increase in children requiring hospitalization for mental health services.
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Noble says there was no randomized control study to prove a direct link between school closings and these statistics. However, “we know that we can open school safely and we know that keeping schools closed is harming our children so it’s really time to move forward with this.
If in fact the trial data comes out this spring, that would mean the vaccines could be available to 12-17-year-olds just before the start of the Fall semester.