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Covid vaccine for elementary school children likely coming in early 2022, Fauci says

Students in Saundra Murphys third grade class participate in silent reading at the start of class on the first day of instruction at Weaverville Elementary School on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 in Weaverville, CA.

Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Elementary school-aged children will likely be able to receive Covid-19 vaccinations early next year, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Fauci, the government’s leading epidemiologist, said that there are studies already underway studying vaccine safety for younger children.

“If you project realistically, when we will be able to get enough data to be able to say that elementary school children will be able to be vaccinated, I would think that would be, at the earliest, the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022,” Fauci said.

Federal regulators have approved three Covid-19 vaccines to help fight the pandemic. Two vaccines, those made by Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, are approved for adults 18 and older.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be administered to those 16 and older, though at the moment eligibility for young people is strictly restricted to those who meet certain criteria, such as underlying medical conditions.

Vaccinating children could help states and localities open schools and return to in-person teaching safely. Fewer children than adults have gotten sick with Covid-19, but they can still contract the virus, get severely ill and spread it to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fauci said that high school students are likely to be able to receive vaccines around the start of the school year in the fall.

“I’m not sure it’s exactly on the first day school opens, but pretty close to that,” he said.

To date, more than 72 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the U.S., according to CDC data. About one-in-five adults has received at least one dose, and about one-in-10 adults has received two.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine was approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday, and is expected to speed the campaign to inoculate every American. The federal government aims to distribute four million doses next week.

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