In the United States, just shy of half of all adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and an additional 7.6 percent are at least partially vaccinated—a considerable feat, given the relatively short time (about six months) that inoculations have been widely available. However, the figures leave out an important demographic: So far, the federal Food and Drug Administration has not authorized any vaccine for children under 12 years old.
Vaccine manufacturers including Pfizer and Moderna are in the process of conducting trials among younger children, but in the meantime, what should parents do? What about families in which some children are eligible for the vaccine and others aren’t?
“Families are experiencing a lot of turmoil and uncertainty right now,” says Laurie Kramer, professor of applied psychology at Northeastern. There’s no single answer that will make sense for every family, she says, but across the board, the situation does offer opportunities to open up conversations between parents and children about frustrations, fears, hopes, and accomplishments.
According to the CDC, there are several practices that can help protect unvaccinated children. First, ensure that everyone who can get a vaccine, does. Second, make sure that children aged 2 and over wear masks in public settings. And third, for children under 2, or who can’t wear a mask, limit visits with people who are not vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.