For those that have kept up with the coronavirus vaccine news, you probably know that three vaccines are currently approved for emergency use authorization (EUA) — Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer — so far in the U.S. With several more vaccines that are expected to be coming soon in the U.S. and around the globe. A top priority for both federal and local agencies is getting students safely back on campus to resume in-person classes. Currently, COVID vaccine rollout is still in the early phases, with teachers and educators recently getting eligibility in almost every state. Last week, President Biden announced in his address to the nation that his administration will make COVID-19 vaccination eligibility open to the general public by no later than May 1st, 2021. In his statement, Biden also reaffirmed his commitment to fully reopening K-8 schools by the end of his first 100 days in office or by the end of April. With the American Rescue Plan has passed, $130 billion has been allocated to help safely reopen schools for in-person instruction and will begin to be distributed this month by the Department of Education.
High school students (both international and domestic) may have more to rejoice in as their turn to get vaccinated is coming soon. In a recent interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the White House, initially said that high school students should receive COVID-19 vaccines by the spring and summer and later pushing that timeline back to the fall. Pfizer’s vaccine is currently authorized for those ages 16 and up, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s are approved for adults 18 and older. In areas where the vaccine rollout has gone smoothly, such as Mississippi, people over the age of 16 have already begun getting vaccinated. Many other states are widening COVID-19 vaccine access to high school students in the coming weeks. Connecticut and Michigan announced that all residents aged 16 and older would be eligible for the vaccine starting April 5th.
Officials are awaiting the results of trials that test the vaccine’s efficacy on the younger population for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Moderna announced last month it would begin testing its COVID-19 vaccine on children. The study will include 3,000 kids ages 12 to 17, half receiving two vaccine shots four weeks apart and the other half getting placebo shots, as the New York Times reported. So, more vaccines could become available soon to younger students.
Even after students receive their vaccine, they will be expected to follow their school’s safety protocols. This could mean that students should still expect to wear a mask, get tested, and practice social distancing for the remainder of 2021. Some students may be getting the vaccine now, and others will have to wait a little longer until spring or summer. Schools will still be maintaining safety guidelines to minimize transmission.
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