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Children and COVID-19 Vaccines with William Muller, MD, PhD

COVID-19 vaccines are being doled out across the nation, almost exclusively to adults. Pfizer's vaccine has been authorized for ages 16 and up and Moderna's vaccine for 18 and up. So when might younger children be vaccinated for COVID-19? And what needs to happen before then? Northwestern's William Muller, MD, PhD, offers insight.


Dr. William Muller

"I think it's underappreciated when we talk about herd immunity that a quarter of the population is under 18. It's really impossible to expect that we would be able to protect the entire population by only vaccinating adults or by only having immunity in adults."

William Muller, MD, PhD

Episode Notes

In this episode, William Muller, MD, PhD, reviews what scientists have learned in the year since the first pediatric cases of COVID-19 were discovered. He explains how COVID-19 typically presents in children and then details the steps and timeline to achieving an effective vaccine for children.

Other topics covered: 

  • Although the death rate of COVID-19 is higher in adults, COVID-19 is not a benign disease in children. Muller describes severe post-infection manifestations in some children called multi-system inflammatory syndrome. From a treatment standpoint, he says, we need to take pediatric COVID seriously.
  • He discusses his recent studies that found lower levels of virus in asymptomatic pediatric patients, stressing that these children can still spread the virus in the community.
  • Lurie Children's and Northwestern are preparing to be a site for upcoming pediatric vaccine trials. Muller says parents have already registered more than 10,000 children in Lurie Children's Hospital SARS-CoV-2 Pediatric Vaccine Trial Registry.
  • If all goes according to plan, Muller expects it will be early 2022 before a vaccine is authorized for the under-12 population. 

Additional Reading and Resources: 

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Recorded on March 1, 2021.

Continuing Medical Education Credit

Physicians who listen to this podcast may claim continuing medical education credit after listening to an episode of this program.

Target Audience

Academic/Research, Multiple specialties

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the research interests and initiatives of Feinberg faculty.
  2. Discuss new updates in clinical and translational research.
Accreditation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine designates this Enduring Material for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure Statement

William Muller, MD, PhD, conducts contracted research with Astellas, Inc., Merck, Sharpe and Dohme, Gilead, Ansun BioPharma, Melinta, Tetraphase, Nabriva, Roche, Janssen, AstraZeneca, and BD. Muller also serves as a consultant for Seqirus and Adagio Therapeutics. Course director, Robert Rosa, MD, has nothing to disclose. Planning committee member, Erin Spain, has nothing to disclose. Feinberg School of Medicine's CME Leadership and Staff have nothing to disclose: Clara J. Schroedl, MD, Medical Director of CME, Sheryl Corey, Manager of CME, Allison McCollum, Senior Program Coordinator, Katie Daley, Senior Program Coordinator, and Rhea Alexis Banks, Administrative Assistant 2.

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