Despite Pfizer having requested emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in kids aged 5 to 11, and a resulting surge in hope that a "return to a version of normalcy in the classroom" is imminent, the U.S. may still be "months away" from a normal-looking school year, The Washington Post reports.
There are a few "significant hurdles" standing between the nation's school children and a conventional year. For one, assuming the FDA authorizes the vaccine quickly, distribution could still take some time, meaning maximum immunity for children is unlikely to be reached before December, writes the Post.
Complicating things further are behavioral issues — how quickly will parents move to vaccinate their kids? A September Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that although a third of parents with young children plan to inoculate their kids right away, another third want to first "wait and see" how the shot works. And on top of that, even in locales with "high levels of vaccine buy-in," regular testing and mask mandates could still remain in place — just look at colleges, for example. Many higher education institutions have kept their COVID-19 precautions in order, despite vaccine mandates and "near 100 compliance rates." Elementary and middle schools could move to do the same.
"Ultimately," writes the Post, a vaccine for young kids "does signal that the pandemic is reaching its end point, and that's good news." Even if it takes a bit more time, "we will eventually know that the nightmare is behind us." Read more at The Washington Post.