HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Medical experts have been saying to reach herd immunity status with COVID-19, children need to be vaccinated.
Connecticut Children Medical Center's Physician-in-Chief Dr. Juan Salazar said vaccinating children is key to restricting spread, and to getting to any kind of normalcy.
"Kids, for the most part, are going to be asymptomatic. They won't have any symptoms of the disease, but they may be shedding virus. If we can shut off that element of transmission, we're going to be in really good shape,” Salazar said.
Pfizer and Moderna are running trials right now for children ages 12 to 15. That data is expected by the summer.
"Once you know that the vaccines are safe and effective, then you start moving it down,” Salazar said. “Kids are not just little adults."
Salazar said vaccine tests are always done in age brackets because our immune system changes as we grow.
With ages 12 to 15 being looked at now, the next age group would be 5 to 11 years old.
In regard to COVID-19, adults were prioritized for vaccines first since the virus’ severity increases when older.
While Connecticut Children’s isn’t involved in either trial, Yale University is testing the Pfizer vaccine in 12- to 15-year-old’s, seeing if two doses is effective, and tracking side effects.
Researchers there are optimistic.
"If we can go by anything we've seen from the adult trial, I think our hopes are high the vaccine should work equally for kids,” said Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, associate professor of Medicine at Yale University.
Dr. Salazar agrees, saying he’s not worried about side effects in children either.
"In fact, I suspect they will do better than the adults. Generally, that's the case with vaccines in kids. They tolerate them quite well,” Salazar said.
He also pointed out that the Pfizer vaccine is already cleared for 16-year-olds, and said it shouldn’t be too far off for 12-year-olds, estimating as soon as May.
“If we get the data for 12-year-olds, which hopefully will come very soon, then I feel very confident also that kids age 5 and above will have equal efficacy from the vaccine,” Salazar said.