A new vaccine could be a game-changer when it comes to school reopening plans. Data shows Pfizer-BioNTech is 100% effective in preventing illness in youths ages 12 to 15.
“When I heard these numbers were looking really good for our teens and they're beginning clinical trials for our little ones, that give me a lot of hope,” said Olympia Beltran, who said she is not sending her son back to school even when San Diego Unified expands its in-person learning on April 12.
But she has hopes for the fall.
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Her son is 9 years old so she will have to wait for the results of clinical trials for a vaccine being tested for those 6 months to 11 years old. Beltran is hoping the county will be closer to achieving herd immunity.
“The closer we get to 70 to 85%, the safer I feel about sending my son back to school in the fall,” Beltran said.
Doctor Howard Taras is a professor of pediatrics at UCSD and has advised San Diego Unified and other school districts about their reopening plans. He said, “We will not have herd immunity by fall.” He said not everyone will be vaccinated, and after the vaccine rolls out, in the summer or fall, it will take time to get shots in the arms.
So, is Beltran’s son safe to go back to school in the fall?
“It will be safer, assuming the adults and older children in that environment are vaccinated,” Taras said, and the safety measures are in place. “That's what is critically important, as we’re still going to have everybody being masked, in good ventilation in all areas where people spend long periods of time.”
Pfizer will submit data to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use approval.