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Children and the COVID-19 vaccines

Pfizer and Moderna are currently testing their coronavirus vaccines on children.

DANVILLE, Pa. — According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than three million children across the country have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 200 have died. Even though young people are less likely to become sick from the virus, many doctors say vaccinating them is important for both their own protection and the broader population.

"When we do research, we first do it in adults to make sure that it's safe in them because children really cannot give informed consent," said Dr. Swathi Gowtham, Geisinger's director of pediatric infection prevention.

Dr. Gowtham says the Pfizer vaccine is approved for people ages 16 and older, while the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are approved for people 18 and older.

Pfizer and Moderna recently started vaccine trials in children ages 12 and older.

"We're waiting for those results, and hopefully, we should have those results in the next few months, maybe by summer," Dr. Gowtham said.

Depending on how the vaccines perform in those age groups, the companies may then test them in younger children.

"What we're looking for is to make sure that we have that data so we can confidently say that, ye,s this vaccine is effective in children, and it's safe in children. In order for us to be able to do that, we need that data," Dr. Gowtham said.

Since children make up nearly a quarter of the U.S. population, experts say vaccinating kids will be crucial to reaching herd immunity. Both Pfizer and Moderna expect to have data by June.