There are now three COVID vaccines available in the U.S., as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just gave the green light to the Johnson&Johnson vaccine. But that doesn't mean you can be choosy with which vaccine you get. In fact, health officials are advising people to get whichever vaccine is first available to them, as supply shortages are still occurring and eligibility is opening up to new groups every week in various states. Even White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, has said he'd get any of the coronavirus vaccines himself, emphasizing the effectiveness of all three. At the moment, however, some people may be barred from getting the Johnson&Johnson vaccine due to age requirements. Read on to find out if you're not eligible for this shot, and for reactions to be aware of, These Are the Side Effects of the New Johnson&Johnson Vaccine, FDA Says.
If you're under the age of 18, you can't get the Johnson&Johnson vaccine yet.
The FDA issued an emergency-use authorization for the Johnson&Johnson vaccine on Feb. 27. However, the authorization only allows this vaccine to be "distributed in the U.S. for use in individuals 18 years of age and older." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also just endorsed the vaccine for use in people aged 18 and older. Currently, if you are under 18 in the U.S., you cannot get the Johnson&Johnson vaccine. And for more vaccination guidance, If You Take This Common Medication, Talk to a Doctor Before Your Vaccine.
But Johnson&Johnson plans to test its vaccine on younger people.
The Johnson&Johnson vaccine has only been tested on those 18 and older, which is why it cannot yet be recommend for anyone younger. However, the company has already announced plans to test its vaccine on younger trial participants. According to The New York Times, Johnson&Johnson will soon test its vaccine in children older than 12 and under 18 first, but will then begin a study that includes newborns and adolescents younger than 12 as well.
In the company's application to the FDA, it says that Ad26-based vaccines (which is the technology behind Johnson&Johnson's COVID vaccine) have been tested in more than 193,000 participants, including children and infants, as of Dec. 2020. These studies have revealed a "favorable safety profile," which means the Johnson&Johnson COVID vaccine will likely prove to be safe and effective in these younger age groups. And to make sure you know what to expect from two-shot vaccines, Doctors Are Warning You to "Be Prepared" for This After Your Second Dose.
You can't get any COVID vaccine in the U.S. if you're under the age of 16.
You can't get the Moderna COVID vaccine if you're younger than 18 years old either. According to the FDA, its "emergency-use authorization allows the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S for use in individuals 18 years of age and older." The only U.S. COVID vaccine available for those under the age of 18 is the Pfizer vaccine. However, Pfizer is only authorized for those over the age of 16, per the FDA. So if you are under the age of 16, there is currently no coronavirus vaccine you can receive in the U.S. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Other vaccine trials for younger individuals are already underway.
Johnson&Johnson isn't the only company testing coronavirus vaccines in younger participants. According to The New York Times, both Pfizer and Moderna are currently testing their vaccines on children 12 and older. However, they don't plan to have results before the summer. If it takes a few weeks for the FDA to review data and authorize a vaccine, it's unlikely that anyone under the age of 16 will be able to get a COVID vaccine before late summer. And for more vaccine reactions to prepare for, If You're Over 65, the CDC Says to Expect This After Your COVID Vaccine
COVID vaccines were tested on adults first, because adults are more likely to die from the virus.
The reason vaccine manufacturers first tested their vaccines on adults is because those older in age have a higher likelihood of dying from COVID. According to the CDC, the rate of death in those 18 to 29 years old from the coronavirus is 15 times higher than those aged five to 17, and it only increases from there—the rate of death for someone 65 or older is 1,100 times higher than those under 17 years old. "It is a significant disease in children, just not necessarily when you compare it to adults," Kristin Oliver, MD, a pediatrician and vaccine expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, explained to The New York Times. And for more on the future of the pandemic, The Pfizer CEO Says This Is How Often You'll Need a COVID Vaccine.