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COVID-19 and Kids

Impacts, Uncertainties, and the Role of Vaccines

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected every segment of society, including unique and widespread harms to children such as the closure of schools and the loss of nearly all group activities.

This has resulted in broad social, educational, developmental, mental health, safety, and nutritional issues, some of which have been particularly severe for ethnic and racial minority children, as well as those who are low income or have disabilities. And while morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 have been significantly less common for young people than adults, it can be a serious and life-threatening disease in children that may lead to lasting health consequences.

Despite all of this, children and adolescents have not been at the center of COVID-19 immunization efforts or discussions. Only one vaccine has received emergency use authorization for those ages 12 to 15, and while two vaccine trials are underway for those ages 5 to 11, an array of regulatory issues may significantly slow these studies and the eventual rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for children. The risk-benefit ratio may differ by age group in infants, children, and adolescents, and may vary with different products and safety profiles.

The quest to overcome COVID-19 is further complicated by global vaccine scarcity and the resulting need to use products of lower or less well-studied efficacy outside the U.S. and a small number of other high-income countries. The ethical and epidemiological imperative to expand global vaccine coverage is seen, by some, as an argument not to use efficacious vaccines on lower risk populations, including youth.

Against this backdrop, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington hosted their second symposium, convening clinical, scientific, regulatory, and private sector leaders to discuss the effect of COVID-19 on youth and the role pediatric vaccines may play in the COVID-19 response. “COVID-19 and Kids: Impacts, Uncertainties and the Role of Vaccines” highlighted COVID-19’s effect on school-age children, particularly those in the 5- to 12-year-old range, and discussed the biological and social strategies that can support youth in the collective fight against COVID-19.

This virtual symposium focused on several key areas:

  • COVID-19’s broad effect on youths in the 5- to 12-year-old range and their families
  • The current state of play in youth vaccine development
  • Ethical aspects of global vaccine scarcity and youth immunization

The first symposium in this series, “Preserving the Scientific Integrity of Getting to COVID-19 Vaccines: From Clinical Trials to Public Allocation,” took place in October 2020, and can be viewed here.

Welcome & Opening Conversation


  • Dr. Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH, Desmond M. Tutu Professor of Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Dr. Larry Corey, MD, Professor of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine


  • Dr. David Kessler, MD, Chief Scientific Officer for the COVID-19 Response, US Dept. of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Session 1: The Impacts of COVID-19 on Children and Families


  • Dr. Larry Corey, MD, Professor of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Dr. Emily Erbelding, MD, MPH, Director of the NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID)


  • Dr. Robert W. Frenck Jr., MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • The Honorable Kim Schrier (WA-8)
  • Amy Pisani, Executive Director, Vaccinate Your Family
  • Dr. LaShawnDa Pittman, PhD, Professor, Dept. of American Ethnic Studies, University of Washington

Session 2: COVID 19 Vaccines and Children: What Do We Need to Know?


  • Dr. Merlin Robb, Chief Medical Advisor, Henry M. Jackson Foundation
  • Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


  • Dr. José Romero, MD, Chair of CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
  • Dr. Christopher Murray, MD, Director, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and Chair, Dept. of Health Metrics Sciences, University of Washington and UW School of Medicine
  • Dr. Kawsar Talaat, MD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Session 3: Regulatory Decisions, Data and Timelines of COVID-19 Vaccines for Children & Adolescents


  • Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, Director, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • Dr. Jan Englund, MD, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine


  • Dr. Peter Marks, MD, PhD, Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Closing Session: Recommendations for COVID-19 Immunization in Children and Adolescents


  • Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity at Stanford University School of Medicine


  • Dr. Sara Oliver, MD, Co-Lead, COVID-19 Work Group of CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
  • Dr. Glenda Gray, BBCH, FCPaed(SA), President & CEO of the South African Medical Research Council
  • Dr. Ben Danielson, MD, University of Washington
  • Dr. Larry Corey, MD, Professor of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine