Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta pediatric expert Dr. Andi Shane discusses the announcement by Moderna that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for 12 to 17-year-olds, and what FDA approval for this age group could mean for the fall 2021 school year and availability of vaccines. GPB's Ellen Eldridge reports.

Moderna headquarters

Moderna announced Tuesday that its two-shot coronavirus vaccine produced the same immune response in teenagers as adults.

Children as young as 12 years old could soon have two options for vaccination with an mRNA product from both Pfizer and Moderna.

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Moderna plans to seek approval in early June from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to vaccinate children between 12 and 17 years of age.

Now, Emory’s School of Medicine is working with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to test Moderna’s efficacy in the 6-months to 11-year-old age group. 

Dr. Andi Shane is the chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine and medical director of infectious disease at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

"Because these trials actually require some dosing studies, they are going to take a little bit longer," Shane said. "And looking at trying to find out what the optimal dose is, it's a balance between achieving efficacy and having tolerable side effects and safety."

Shane said she's excited by Moderna's announcement because there will soon be greater access to vaccine for adolescents.

"This adds a second tool in the toolbox for all of the mitigation activities," she said. "The vaccines are really one of the key mitigation approaches and strategies, as we have seen from the tremendous decline in the number of infections over the past several weeks, since vaccines have been used more widely in children."

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The news provides hope for the summer season, for summer camp, and for getting back to school in the fall, Shane said.

All children are expected to be eligible to get vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna by early 2022.