COVID vaccine for kids edges closer to reality, as cases surge in Michigan
In the race against COVID’s spread, a vaccine for adolescents might offer an opportunity to sprint toward herd immunity — especially as COVID cases surge among the youngest Michiganders. In a little more than five weeks, cases involving Michigan residents 19 and younger jumped from 1,526 on Feb. 20 to 6,783 on March 27, a more than four-fold increase, according to state data. Michiganders 10 to 19 years old now make up nearly 16 percent of state COVID cases, up from 8.5 percent before January, the data shows. It’s not just the more contagious B.1.17. variant that’s causing problems, experts told Bridge Michigan. Prep sports have resumed. And there’s some evidence teens and young adults are less likely to follow safety protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing as those who feel more at risk, experts said. Pfizer also has begun a vaccine trial among children 6 months to 11 years old. Moderna, too, is testing vaccines among adolescents and teens and children, too. Johnson & Johnson has similar plans. From the get-go, the state has set a goal of vaccinating at least 70 percent of Michiganders 16 and older, even as it’s not precisely clear what amount will bring herd immunity. The state has not yet announced whether that goal will be adjusted as vaccines for children and adolescents become available. A vaccine for children and adolescents will also help ensure a safe return to the classroom, said pediatrician Dr. Lynn Smitherman, an associate professor of pediatrics at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine in Detroit. A vaccine for children will help Michigan return students to classrooms and move the state toward herd immunity, said Smitherman. She said she is getting an increasing number of questions from patients and their parents. “Parents are anxious to get their kids back to school. The kids are anxious to go back to school. I can’t imagine being home for a year with teenagers,” Smitherman said.
April 2, 2021