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How to Get Your Kid an Early COVID Vaccine (Legally and Safely)

September 21, 2021

The U.S. set a new record earlier this month for the number of children admitted with COVID in a single day. There were more than 1,900 children in the hospital on August 15. The back-to school season is causing a surge in severe cases. However, many schools don’t require masks or offer online options. As parents are well aware, the COVID vaccine is not yet available to children under 12. The COVID vaccine is not yet available for children under 12. One idea is to enroll your child in a COVID vaccination trial.

Participating in a trial can be more difficult than just getting a shot at the local pediatrician, but it could give your child much-needed protection from COVID. Bill Muller, MD and PhD is a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Northwestern Feinberg school of Medicine, who is currently working on a pediatric vaccine trial to combat COVID.

Pfizer states that it plans to apply for an emergency authorization to use its vaccine for children aged 5-11 in September. The vaccine could not be available to these children for several weeks. The company plans to file the vaccine for children aged 2-5 years soon, and those 6 months-6 years old in October or November. Moderna has a slower timeline. There is only one chance for child vaccination against COVID in the interim.

How to enlist a child in a COVID vaccination trial? Researchers all over the country are seeking children to join their research, but it isn’t easy to get in. Here’s how it works.

How Pediatric Vaccine Trials Work

Because researchers are still studying this age group, the Food and Drug Administration cannot yet approve COVID vaccines to be used in children under 12. Children require a different dose from adults. It is possible that vaccines might work differently in smaller people. Before the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve, experts must have completed safety and effectiveness testing. Then younger children can be vaccinated in mass quantities.

Moderna and Pfizer currently test their vaccines with children under 12 years of age in the United States. They have divided their trials into three age categories: 6 months to 2 year olds, 2 to 5 years olds, and 5 to 11. Johnson and Johnson is currently testing the vaccine with adolescents between 12 and 17 years old in Spain and the UK. However, it will eventually enroll children in the U.S.

Only a few children received the vaccine in early trials. To determine the dosage, experts study side effects and immune reactions of these children. We extend the trial to other children. Randomly, the researchers give the vaccine to some children enrolled in the trial. A smaller dose of the placebo is also given. The vaccine your child gets will not be known until much later. Researchers then monitor side effects and determine which children are hospitalized for COVID.

What’s It Like to Be in a COVID Vaccine Trial?

Every vaccine trial is different depending on where it is being conducted. They start with screening to ensure that children who have signed up for the trial are eligible. Moderna and Pfizer have slightly different requirements, but the most important requirement for all children is that they be in good health. Controlling chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes is essential.

When a child expresses interest in a trial, parents usually complete an eligibility survey. Upon selection, the child is to travel for both doses. Additional in-person or telehealth visits also required. Researchers will continue to ask participants to check in on the site for up to a year after the end of the study. They have to keep a journal detailing any side effects that they have during the study.

Muller states, “We would ask them to continue being followed for possible adverse effects afterward,” Muller adds.

Families can withdraw at any stage. Participation is voluntary. (But, for the benefit of science, you should continue to participate. Except in exceptional circumstances.

Some children in the COVID vaccine trials will not receive the vaccine. Some children would receive placebo. The site may vary on how many children receive the vaccine or the placebo. However, three out of four vaccines in the study is a placebo. It is important to continue to use other precautions to prevent COVID infections.

Priya Banerjee MD, a Rhode Island forensic pathologist, is trying to enroll her daughter in a study. Her behavior will remain the same. Unless her daughter gets her shot. Even if it’s a placebo. She says, “I am not ereducing my precautions even though she is accepted into a study.” “We will still follow the highest protocol.”

You can disclose if your child received the placebo. Once the vaccine is approved for your child’s age. If they did, you’ll be the first to receive a vaccine. Muller states, “We can assure them that they will have earlier access to vaccines if one is authorized before the end of this study.”

Is It Safe to Enroll Your Kid in a COVID Vaccine Trial?

Muller states that safety is the main goal of every clinical trial. Even in trials in the late stages of development, like the COVID vaccine trials, our most important assessment is that patients are safe.”

Researchers closely monitor participants and evaluate them for any adverse effects. Researchers can halt a study if there are too many violations of these rules. Studies have shown that vaccines are safe for adults. Children vaccine tests have been extensive. So it is unlikely that vaccines will cause harm to any child.

Ask the trial experts if you have any questions. Remember that putting your child on an interest list does not make them a participant in a study. Register now and, if selected, you will be able to get answers directly from experts before you and/or your child decide whether or not you want to take part.

How to Get Your Kid in a Vaccine Trial

It’s easy: Search for a trial and add your name to the list. It is not as easy as it sounds to find trials that recruit participants. Banerjee tried for months to find trials that would recruit participants, but it was futile. According to her, it is about family luck. 2,000 people waited on a single site.

Research sites might be hiring more children now, fortunately. The FDA asked Moderna and Pfizer to increase enrollment in their trials for children aged 5-11 years. Researchers have a better chance of finding rare, but still serious side effects if there are more participants.

You can find websites that are hiring through online resources. Look at the sites for the Moderna or Pfizer trials.
  • Here’s a link to a trial of the pediatric Pfizer COVID vaccine
  • Find a Pfizer pediatric COVID vaccine clinic near you to check your eligibility.
  • Find a local pediatric Moderna COVID trial and check your eligibility here

To find out if any trial sites are recruiting near you, you can also search for them. The “Locations tab” on their respective clinicaltrials.gov websites will show you at least some of these locations.

  • Here’s where you can find the Pfizer clinical trial location
  • Here’s where you can find the Moderna site for clinical trials

There is no location requirement for many trials. Even if you are only able to get in one trial, it is possible. You’ll need to go to the hospital in person so it might be best to stay close to home. Nisha Gandhi MD, an ICU physician in New Jersey, accepted her daughter into a study program in Idaho. She decided, however, that the location was too far to travel on their number of trips. She was able to enroll her daughter at a nearby study.

To find new trial sites, don’t be afraid of networking with local parents. Keep an eye out for local news publications that may have information about nearby research sites that need more volunteers.

It is not easy to get into a COVID vaccine for children. It’s also about commitment. One site out of eight would accept your request. Don’t hesitate to apply. Sites are becoming increasingly popular and there are only so many applicants.