Many New Jersey parents continue to voice concerns about having their children back in school, especially because kids under the age of 12 are still not able to get a COVID vaccine.

Pfizer and Moderna have expanded the size of their clinical trials to try and speed up the approval process.

The move, at the urging of federal regulators, is designed to give health experts a better idea of the overall safety of the vaccines for children, including the incidence of heart inflammation problems, which have been rarely detected in younger adults.

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the beginning of the summer indicated about 500 cases of myocarditis were reported in younger Americans who were fully vaccinated, which works out to about 13 cases per million.

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According to the CDC, the vast majority of these cases were rare and did not last long.

Dr. Stanley H. Weiss, a Rutgers University epidemiologist an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said a significant amount of data has already been collected from Pfizer and Moderna.

“What we’ve so far heard was a very low rate of adverse reactions, and the preliminary information on the efficacy from both companies was extremely high," Weiss said.

While there is significant pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to give emergency use authorization for younger kids to be able to get the vaccine, he said “we want to be especially careful in children. We don’t treat them as just little adults because we know that their immune systems in their bodies, they’re biologically different.”

The preliminary data from children given the vaccine over the past two months has looked good but the FDA and the CDC will scrutinize it. No one knows for sure but Pfizer could file a request for emergency use authorization for its vaccine for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 by the end of the  month and it could be approved by the FDA sometime in October.

Weiss said with the Delta variant still spreading, COVID vaccines for younger children will help to protect them and lesson the incidence of outbreaks in schools.

“For the control of this pandemic, we are at a crossroads where we need to ramp up our protection rapidly now,” he said.

He explained getting more people vaccinated will help to stop new variants from emerging.

“If those variants can get a foothold, we’ll have another wave of COVID that could be even more serious than we’re facing now," he said.

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