No mandatory COVID-19 vaccine for school children

An initial vaccine will be for adults only
Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 6:33 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - If the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer proceeds to an Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration without delay, 20 million doses could be available for distribution as early as December, according to Matt Bobo, an epidemiologist and director of Alaska’s immunization program said Thursday.

Bobo made the comments during a weekly video conference that connects the state’s public health team with members of the health care community.

Asked whether the vaccine would be mandatory for school attendance, the team said no.

“Children will not be able to receive it. It has not been tested widely enough on children for kids to receive it, so it certainly wouldn’t be mandated for school if they are not allowed to receive it,” explained Tessa Walker Linderman, a nurse consultant and member of the COVID-19 Task Force with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

When a vaccine becomes available, critical health care personnel will have priority, which includes people working in health care who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to COVID-19. The planning process now is to get sites ready to administer the vaccine.

Bobo said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed expect that another vaccine from manufacturer Moderna could be available as soon as one week after the Pfizer vaccine. The vaccines are not interchangeable, as they have different handling requirements and different schedules. While both are a two-dose vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine doses are separated by 21 days, where the Moderna doses are given 28 days apart, he said.

The intent is to ensure the most vulnerable individuals receive the vaccine first, Linderman said.

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