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COVID-19 vaccine for children could take a lot longer, health experts say

While some coronavirus vaccine trials are in advanced stages, companies have failed to conduct studies on children.

TAMPA, Fla. — With a presidential push to find a universal COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, pediatric specialists are calling for companies to start including children in their research.

The CDC has laid out preliminary guidelines as to how they intend to distribute the vaccine once it's ready including prioritizing healthcare workers, essential workers, those with at-risk conditions, and people over the age of 65, but there has been no mention of how the medical community plans on vaccinating children.

There are reasons for this, starting with the fact that children are less likely to become very ill if they do catch the coronavirus, but also because testing children has historically been more complicated.

"They’re considered vulnerable so they won’t be the first ones being tested on medications or antibiotics," explained Dr. Claudia Espinosa, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of South Florida.

Espinosa says the pediatric medical community is pushing to get children included in COVID-19 vaccine trials as soon as possible; in fact, she thinks we're late already.

"To create the protocol, it takes a lot of time," she said, explaining that children might need different doses at different times. All of this takes extensive research.

Part of the problem with testing children is the lack of participation. You're not as likely to get parents willing to sign their child up to be a test subject so Espinosa and her colleagues are trying to inform the community of this critical dilemma.

Dr. Espinosa warns, "Some kids really get sick. I have seen them. They are scary sick."

RELATED: Doctors begging companies to include pregnant women in coronavirus vaccine trials

Without a vaccine for children, they will continue to transit the disease and some of them will become gravely ill. The pandemic won't end if kids are still spreading infection.

Last month, Dr. Evan Anderson, a pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta along with his colleagues issued a manuscript in the journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases calling on vaccine makers to start researching children. The abstract reads in part:

While adult clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines have moved quickly into Phase 3 clinical trials, clinical trials have not started in children in the US. The direct COVID-19 impact upon children is greater than that observed for a number of other pathogens for which we now have effective pediatric vaccines.

RELATED: Yes, getting more sleep could protect you from catching COVID

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