A little bit of help is likely on the way for parents.
On Sunday, Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and a current member of Pfizer’s board, said the pharmaceutical company could be ready to apply for vaccine approval for children as soon as October. If all goes as planned, he estimated that the Pfizer vaccine could be authorized for children under 12 come winter.
“It could take longer to get to an authorization, but the agency will be in a position to make an authorization, I believe, at some point [in the] late fall, [or] probably early winter,” Gottlieb said during an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation.
“And probably they’re going to base their decision on what the circumstances around the country, what the urgency is, to get to a vaccine for kids.”
For parents, “urgent” verges on being an understatement. Last year, millions of women were pushed out of the workforce, many of whom had no choice but to take on childcare—and remote schooling—responsibilities full time. Though getting vaccinated has relieved anxieties about being hospitalized with covid, parents with small children have had no such relief: While they may be able to take transit, dine out, and generally commune with society more safely, their unvaccinated children still risk becoming ill. Schools across the country are reopening, and mask mandate bans, in effect in a handful of conservative states, mean some children, teachers, and staff are showing up to school unmasked and potentially contagious.
Getting young children vaccinated won’t solve everything—parents still desperately need things like universal childcare and extended child tax credits—but it would certainly make parents feel better about sending their children to school, daycare, or even just on playdates at other children’s homes, at which point they might have one blissful minute to breathe.