Biden: Children Could Get COVID-19 Vaccine Within Months

Carolyn Crist

July 22, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Children under age 12 could be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine "soon" and potentially within the next few months, President Joe Biden said Wednesday.

Pfizer and Moderna are conducting vaccine clinical trials for ages 6 months to 12 years, and the results are expected sometime this fall.

"Soon, in the sense that I do not tell any scientists what they should do. I do not interfere," he said during a televised town hall hosted by CNN.

"They are doing the examinations now, the testing now, and making the decision now" on appropriate dosing for different age groups, he said.

In the meantime, the CDC will "probably" recommend that children under age 12 should wear masks in school this fall, Biden said. Current CDC guidelines indicate that fully vaccinated students don't need to wear masks in the classroom, yet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended on Monday that all students over age 2 should wear masks this fall, even if vaccinated.

Students who are 12 and older and fully vaccinated shouldn't wear a mask, Biden said Wednesday, citing the CDC guidelines. However, those who aren't yet vaccinated — including those under age 12 who aren't yet eligible for vaccination — need to wear a mask, he added.

The difficulty, though, will be whether school districts can determine who is and isn't vaccinated, he noted.

"It's going to get a little bit tight in terms of, well, are Mom or Dad being honest that Johnny did or did not get vaccinated? That's going to raise questions," Biden said. "It's a matter of community responsibility."

Biden also said that the COVID-19 vaccines, which are approved under emergency use authorization, could receive full FDA approval this fall.

"They're not promising me any specific date, but my expectation talking to the group of scientists we put together…is that sometime, maybe in the beginning of the school year — at the end of August, beginning of September, October — they'll get a final approval," he said.

Biden expressed frustration about millions of Americans who are eligible for a vaccine but not getting the shot. About 56% of Americans have received at least one dose, according to the latest CDC tally updated on Wednesday, and 49% are fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 cases have nearly tripled across the country during the past two weeks, with the seven-day average climbing above more than 41,000 daily cases on Wednesday, according to The New York Times. The contagious Delta variant now accounts for 83% of new cases.

"We have a pandemic for those who haven't gotten the vaccination — it's that basic, that simple," Biden said, urging people to get a shot.

"It's gigantically important that we all act like Americans who care about our fellow Americans," he said.


CNN: "Biden says he believes kids under 12 will be able to get Covid-19 vaccines 'soon,' but it's up to scientists."

CDC: "Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools, updated July 9, 2021."         

American Academy of Pediatrics: "American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Recommendations for Opening Schools in Fall 2021."

CDC: "COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States."

The New York Times: "Latest Map and Case Count, updated July 22, 2021."