An AHN doctor says it's important to get children into clinical trials so the vaccine can be given to kids, but that's a distant priority.By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Nicole Acierno has a son in kindergarten. Austin has been at school at home since November.

“The rise in cases in this area, particularly in our township, have been very high, so I’m thankful that the district made this decision and feel comfortable it’s the safest thing to do at this point,” she says.

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She hopes next school year will be different: “I would hope that by next fall, children are able to have the vaccine. If not by the beginning of the school year, then hopefully by this time next year.”

Some pediatricians are calling for more clinical trials involving children.

“Usually when it comes to clinical trials in children, they roll out a lot slower than they do in adults,” says Dr. Joe Aracri of AHN Pediatric Alliance. “A lot of times, they’ll sit back and see what happens with the adult population first, and then slowly back it into the pediatric population.”

Studies show 1 to 2 percent of kids with the illness end up needing intensive care.

Dr. Aracri says it’s important to get children into clinical trials so the vaccine can be given to kids, but that’s a distant priority.

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“For kids going back to school next year, I think it’s unlikely that the vaccine will be available for them. Again, we’re going to be really focusing our efforts and immunizing the elderly and high-risk patients over 65,” says Dr. Aracri.

Other pediatricians worry the vaccine might trigger MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children), the severe pediatric inflammatory syndrome seen in rare cases of COVID-19.

“You’re always worried about things that could happen,” Dr. Aracri says. “These are things that will have to be watched and studied carefully.”

If no vaccine for kids comes by next school year, Nicole hopes enough teachers, bus drivers and school staff become immunized.

“I’m hoping that enough adults receive the vaccine and we start to have immunity amongst the community members,” she says.

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She would be comfortable sending Austin back to school then.