COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Local health leaders say the potential of vaccine distribution for children is good news for the area.
The company says it plans to submit the data to the US Food and Drug Administration as soon as possible for expanded emergency use authorization of the two-dose vaccine.
The assistant director of the Columbia/Boone County Health Department Scott Clardy said getting this age group vaccinated is another step towards herd immunity, as a large group of people is hesitant about getting the vaccine in the area.
"The more people that are eligible that want to get the vaccine and can get vaccinated, the better," Clardy said. "So we are hopeful that once the vaccine is made available to younger people, we'll have even better uptake, and get help get us closer to that herd immunity."
Clardy said there is not a set percentage for herd immunity, saying some believe it is around 60 percent, while other health leaders say it could be more than 75 percent.
Health leaders say this development will also have a large impact on schools moving forward. Clardy said getting the vaccine to students would not only protect the community inside of the buildings.
"If they are protected, that helps protect the people those students and teachers come into contact with outside of school," Clardy said. "That multiplies the impact of getting students vaccinated."
The Chief Medical Officer of Boone Health in Columbia Robin Blount said this is exciting news to continuing fighting the pandemic.
"Hopefully within a timeframe that allows the FDA to really determine that the data is valid and safe, they can expand it to that age group," Blount said.
The timeline is still unknown for when or if the vaccine will be approved for this age group, but Blount said there is hope it will happen in the summer or towards the beginning of the next school year.
"That certainly would benefit all of us in protecting those returning back to school," Blount said.
A spokesman for the Missouri State Teachers Association Todd Fuller agreed this is good news for schools across Missouri.
"It gives that sense and that level of safety to both teachers and students, but really parents as well," Fuller said.
As officials continue to work to make the vaccine available to this population, Fuller said personal hygiene and COVID protocols likely will stick around for the foreseeable future.
"There will still be mask-wearing in some settings and some situations, I don't think it will be the way it was in the course of this past year," Fuller said. "I think moving forward we will still see some of those precautions in place."