When could COVID-19 vaccines become available for younger students?

MIAMI VALLEY — COVID-19 cases and quarantines have forced numerous schools to temporarily close or switch to online learning.

The number of absentees are also forcing other districts into online learning for a few weeks hoping to bring down the numbers.

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The concerns are leading to questions about potential vaccines against COVID-19 for elementary students.

Dr. Roberto Colon, Chief Medical Officer for Miami Valley Hospital, said there are many studies being done to clear the way for the vaccines to be offered to people from two to 11-years-old. He thinks there may be an announced timeline sometime in October.

“We may see them break them up and it’s going to be 5 to 11 year-olds that get approved first before we see some of the younger kids,” Colon said.

Many local schools began the year without mask mandates, but as the number of illnesses and absences began to skyrocket, that has changed.

Some people think having a vaccine available for children would be an offensive weapon against the virus, but the approval process has moved slower for children.

“Because the formulation may have to be different, and there may be some nuances to understand before that gets rolled out,” Colon said.

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Dan Palmer, principal at Kettering’s Southdale Elementary School, says they teach students about COVID care and protection all the time.

“It’s part of our culture, keep that distance, wash those hands,” Palmer said.

The school board has so far not mandated vaccines for 12 to17 year-olds, who do have shots available to them, and would likely not mandate them for younger children either.

Doctors hope one fully approved vaccine, with more to come, will help convince more and more people to immunize.

“What’s interesting is there have been new arguments against vaccines about those, and false claims, so there’s always going to be a counter argument,” Colon said.

Doctors say the best protection for students without a vaccine is to wear masks, keep social distancing and wash hands regularly.