COVID vaccine trials underway in older children: What to know

Pfizer, Moderna expect results from vaccine trials in older children by this summer

The vaccine research in children will have a foundation of research already done on adults.

Trials with the COVID-19 vaccine for children will build on what we’ve learned from the adult trials.

They will only need thousands instead of tens of thousands of trials. The researchers will be focused on watching for any side effects and analyzing the children’s blood to make sure they generate an immune response similar to the one effective in adults.

Quick facts:

  • Trials are underway in kids aged 12 to 15.
  • Pfizer and Moderna expect to have results from their trials in older children this summer.
  • A vaccine for younger children isn’t expected until early next year (2022).

Moderna is enrolling about 3,000 children in its COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Danielle Collins’ son is ready.

“He’s the child of a health care provider and hears the stories and understands the burden and he is anxious to get past this as well,” said Collins.

Pediatrician Dr. Richard Chung’s son, Caleb, volunteered to participate at Duke University.

“I think for him at age 12, to have that experience of taking back control from the pandemic, at least for a brief moment in time, I think is pretty cool,” said Chung.

Duke is testing the vaccine in about 2,000 children between the ages of 12 and 15.

“That’s a lot of young people who are really doing something great on behalf of all of us,” said Chung.

Last month, British researchers launched a trial testing the AstraZeneca in children age 12 to 17. That vaccine was developed in the UK and has not been approved for use in the United States.

The safety bar is higher for vaccines in children, but critical for ultimately ending the pandemic.

“When we talk about herd immunity and we know that 25% of the population is children, we know it’s important for children to be part of vaccine trials and part of what we’re trying to accomplish with mass vaccinations,” said Dr. Angela Moemeka, pediatrician.

Studies are underway in kids aged 12 to 15. The next age group is 6-11, then focusing on those younger.

“We really want to make sure the benefit is as high as possible because they have mild disease. So that’s the part of the reason why it’s taken a little bit longer on the pediatric side,” said Moemeka.

Caleb doesn’t know if he received the actual vaccine or a placebo. He was tired and had headaches afterwards but recovered quickly.

Danielle Collins said as a healthcare worker she felt a weight lifted when she got the vaccine and hopes her son will soon feel the same sense of comfort.

“It’s such a relief of a burden that I knew was heavy but I didn’t know how heavy until I received that vaccine and started to feel a little bit more confident that I’m going to make it through this all right,” she said.

Pfizer and Moderna expect to have results from their trials in older children this summer. It’s possible the vaccine for that group could be available some time in the fall.

Right now, a vaccine for younger children isn’t expected until early next year (2022).

Read more: Merck to help manufacture Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.