Vaccine trials underway in older children

COVID-19 vaccine trials are now underway for older children in several states across the country. While the vaccination strategy has prioritized healthcare workers and long-term facility residents so far - the trials could bring results as soon as this summer.

Moderna and Pfizer have already begun trials with volunteers ranging from 12-17 years old.

Both companies are expecting to have finalized data from those trials possibly as soon as the end of June.

While there are now three FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines available none are approved for anyone 15 or younger. 

“From a business standpoint it would be nice even from a parent standpoint it would be nice to have a vaccine for kids automatically you know come about, but from a safety standpoint, I’m in no rush trying to get a vaccine you know through the process in order for the kids to be vaccinated," said Denise Cunningham, Owner of Free Time Kids Playcare. 

Trials that have begun are giving children who have volunteered the choice to withdraw even after enrollment - despite any potential opposition from parents.

“Although the parent is the one giving the legally valid authorization really honoring that notion of pediatric assent is critical in any pediatric trial," said Dr. Mark Fox, Deputy Health Officer for St. Joseph County. 

Fox says while we aren’t running any trials here locally - that doesn’t mean children in South Bend won’t be able to get the vaccine once it does become available.

“It’s not really predicated on the trial being conducted in Indiana. It’s really nationally collecting enough data around patients in the pediatric age range so that the FDA can make a determination regarding safety and efficacy,”  he shared. 

So far volunteers have been given two injections a few weeks apart. Half were given placebos - the other half receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I think there are a lot of positive things that give me confidence that once we have a vaccine approved for pediatric age ranges that our ability to deploy that you know in a timeframe to benefit before next school year is actually very good," said Fox. 

While the possibility for children to get vaccinated sooner than expected is there many parents are hoping to see teachers get vaccinated. 

“I think teachers need to be in that next batch to be vaccinated," said Cunningham. 

Children who have enrolled in the trials are currently being followed for an entire year after their second dose.

If all goes well trials will be extended to children as young as six years old.

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