We need to vaccinate kids-students, too.

So far, children - students have mostly been spared from the worst possible aspects of Covid-19. Let's just keep it that way.

The most important and least recognized reason to vaccinate all children quickly is the possibility that the virus will continue to spread and mutate into more dangerous variants, including ones that could harm both children and adults.

Variants ''of concern'' first identified in Britain, South Africa, Brazil and California are being closely followed by epidemiologists. 

Some of these appear more contagious than earlier versions, and at least one of them - B.1.1.7., first observed in Britain - appears to cause a slight up tick in the risk of dying of Covid-19. So far, the vaccines still appear to work well against them.

But we might not be so fortunate with future variants. Viruses acquire mutations as they spread. The more infections there are, the more chances that the coronavirus has to mutate. This increases the likelihood that a more dangerous strain could emerge.

Variants that cause more severe illness in children/students are likely to emerge from children themselves, especially with adults becoming less hospitable hosts for infection as vaccinations rise.

Just as important, vaccinating children/students quickly will improve our odds of emerging from this crisis sooner. The United States is likely to need to to vaccinate children to reach herd immunity, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, and others have noted.

From our perspective as a scientist and a clinician, the trials are designed to ask the right questions : Are these vaccines safe for children/students ? What does produces a strong enough immune response without a high number of bothersome side effects?

Parents can rest assured that once once the vaccine trials for children are complete and the data is reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, it will be considered safe to begin vaccinating kids.

Assuming that happens, we will need to hurry up and vaccinate all children, making sure we reach underserved communities. That includes children abroad, because any harmful coronavirus variants that emerge elsewhere will eventually reach all of us.

So far, children have mostly been spared from the worst aspects of this disease. For that, we are relieved. However, we owe that to a lot of luck. From here on out, we must deliberately protect them.

The World Students Society thanks authors Jeremy Samuel Faust is an instructor at Harvard Medical School and Angela L. Rasmussen is a virologist at the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center.


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