With Successful COVID-19 Vaccine Trials for Children We Must Prioritize Their Inoculations

April 1, 2020 - Children’s Health Fund applauds the news of no infections among COVID-19 vaccinated children ages 12 to 15 in a recent vaccine trial.

“Children in under-resourced communities need to be prioritized in vaccine distribution as soon as they are eligible,” said Children’s Health Fund CEO Dennis Walto. “It will be important to get as many children inoculated as quickly as possible so that the world can recover from the effects of the pandemic. Children’s Health Fund is here to help support our partners to ensure they are ready to make that happen.”

All children, especially those who face the most access barriers, should be prioritized in COVID-19 vaccine distribution and planning must begin immediately. Children’s Health Fund urges the continued urgent inclusion of children of all ages in vaccine trials. We also urge that single dose, easy to store vaccine options be quickly prioritized to ensure a more equitable and accelerated vaccine distribution for children. Lastly, Children’s Health Fund also strongly recommends immediate COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible teenagers aged 16 and over.

“Children account for 13.4% of total COVID-19 cases and make up about 23% of the population. In order for our country to reach herd immunity, we must ensure that all people, including children, have quick and safe access to a vaccine. Children cannot be an afterthought in this process,” said Dennis Walto.

As the country slowly begins re-opening and children start going back to school and reuniting with their friends, the risks of exposure are growing. Vaccine confidence and equitable distribution of the vaccine will be an essential part of defeating the COVID-19 virus and our collective ability to attain much needed relief from all the major impacts of the pandemic.

Getting all children vaccinated will be only the first step in the long battle to counter the astronomical impacts the pandemic has had on the lives of children--especially children living in under-resourced communities. Families most affected by the pandemic will have to deal with fallout for years to come. From the economic impact that has pushed millions below the poverty line to the deep mental health impact stemming from isolation and the untimely death of parents and caretakers.

“Vaccine confidence alone doesn’t tell the whole story; increases in children living in poverty, rising mental health needs and lack of access to high-quality healthcare are also big factors. Distrust in the system is real, and refusal to validate widespread fear and apprehension would not properly acknowledge this history,” said John Decarvalho, senior director for Policy and Advocacy.

Children’s Health Fund acknowledges historical inequities and trauma faced within the Black community at the hands of the American medical system. From the Tuskegee experiment to unconscious bias, lingering issues still impact Black Americans to this day and affect their individual relationships with the medical community. Latinx folks disproportionately face barriers to high-quality healthcare services which is compounded by other social determinants of health. These children are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 as a result.