Pfizer and Moderna Begin COVID Vaccine Trials on Children as Young as 6 Months Old

Getty A child receiving a vaccine

A COVID-19 vaccine could soon be available for children as young as 6 months old.

Pfizer and Moderna have both begun vaccine trials on the youngest age group yet, with parental consent. Dr. Steve Plimpton, the principal investigator for Moderna's trial in children, told ABC News that their main concern is that kids can unknowingly infect others.

"We're also going to be protecting those around those children, the teachers, the parents at home, the grandparents," Dr. Plimpton said. "So that's the unspoken benefit of this study."

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In the phase one trial for Pfizer, kids will receive their second dose 21 days after their first. For Moderna, it will be 28 days later. This is referred to as a "dosing" trial, allowing researchers to determine how much vaccine children can tolerate and how to protect them.

The second phase will involve splitting subjects into a placebo and a treatment group. "We'll follow these children out for a year to determine how they've done with it," Dr. Plimpton added of the Moderna trial.

As for Pfizer, their study involves 5,000 children nationwide, and they expect to have results by the winter. "Together with our partner BioNTech, we have dosed the first healthy children in a global Phase study to further evaluate the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (BNT162b2) in preventing COVID-19 in healthy children 6 months to 11 years old," a spokesperson for Pfizer tells PEOPLE in a statement.

"We are proud to start this much needed study for children and families eagerly awaiting a possible vaccine option," they added. "We anticipate early safety results from this study could be available in the second half of 2021."

The latest update comes after Pfizer reported that their vaccine is 100% effective in kids aged 12 to 15. Moderna also said kids aged 12 to 17 could be approved for their vaccine by the fall, after starting their trial on the younger age group last month.

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"If you project realistically when we will be able to get enough data to be able to say that elementary school children will be able to be vaccinated," Dr. Anthony Fauci said on NBC's Meet the Press in February. "I would think that would be, at the earliest, the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022."

As of Tuesday, 96,747,454 people (29.1% of the population) in the United States have been fully vaccinated from COVID-19, and of those, 96,247,756 (37.3%) are 18 or older, according to the CDC. The country is expected to reach herd immunity (70% of adults vaccinated) by mid-June.

Susan Walsh/AP/Bloomberg via Getty Dr. Anthony Fauci

Just last week, President Joe Biden reached his goal of having 200 million vaccinations administered in his first 100 days in office, after surpassing the original goal of 100 million early. The milestone came shortly after all U.S. adults became eligible to receive the COVID vaccine.

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