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What needs to happen before a COVID vaccine for kids is authorized

As the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12 continues, patiently-waiting parents who are hungry for answers might try keeping an eye out for a few notable signs of progress, writes The Atlantic.

The first "milestone" will be reached when under-12 vaccine trials stop accepting new participants, notes The Atlantic; after that, researchers "can put all their effort into evaluating the trial itself." As of Wednesday, both Pfizer and Moderna's trials were reportedly still listed as "recruiting" in the National Library of Medicine's clinical-trial database. For context, Pfizer submitted an FDA application for its adolescent vaccine iteration just over two months after closing trial enrollment.

The next and more obvious milestone would be reached when either manufacturer submits an emergency use authorization application. Then, in the case of Pfizer, the company's 12-to-15-year-old EUA was approved a month after its submission.

However, late last month, Pfizer and Moderna both extended the recruitment phrases for their under-12 vaccine clinical trials. The FDA, which requested the extension, said it is concerned about "having a large-enough sample size to detect rare side effects," writes The Atlantic. It is unclear how much time the extra recruiting will take.

So, in the meantime, the best way to protect young children continues to be "masking, quality ventilation, frequent testing, and vaccinating as many adults and adolescents as possible," writes The Atlantic.