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Doctors hopeful for children to return to school come fall

Nationwide, COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials in children are currently in the process.

INDIANAPOLIS — Come September, all kids could be back in school if pediatric COVID-19 vaccine trials go as planned.

"What we know is the COVID vaccine is being tested in kids down to 12 years of age right now. We hope to have information about that sometime this summer, so that we can really look at the data. We really want to be driven by the data and what we're seeing in clinical trials and well designed studies," said Dr. James Wood, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Riley Hospital for Children.

Wood said having all kids back in school is a great goal to have, and research shows kids are at less risk for contracting the virus.

"It doesn't mean they're at zero risk, and it doesn't mean they can't get it or spread it, but it seems to be that they're much less likely to get severe disease and end up in the hospital," Wood said.

Nationwide, clinical trials in children are currently in the process.

The clinical trials will be split into age groups.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said there will be what's called an "age de-escalation" process. For example, 16 to 12, 12 to 9 and ages 9 to 6.

Pfizer and Moderna have enrolled children 12 years and up in their pediatric trials for the COVID-19 vaccine. Johnson and Johnson has yet to announce any pediatric studies.

Fauci said if those trials are successful, kids as young as first graders could get vaccinated by September.

"I think to say that you're not going to open up schools until every single teacher gets vaccinated and namely making it a scenaequan [sic] I don't think we can go there. Otherwise I think it would be very difficult to get the schools open. We want to get them open as quickly and as efficiently as we can but we want to also prioritize teachers," Fauci said. 

Wood said we'll get there one day, but for now, we have to remain vigilant.

"It's really hard to stay focused toward the end, but I think there is reason for optimism for sure," Wood said.