Kids as young as 12 have signed up for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trials to test how well it works on young people

By Julie Mazziotta
October 28, 2020 01:18 PM
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12-year-old Abhinav gets his blood drawn for COVID-19 vaccine trials
| Credit: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Last week, Abhinav, a 12-year-old from Ohio, received his first injection for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trial, making him one of the youngest people in the world to participate in the search for a viable vaccine.

The 7th grader was happy to sign up, other than a slight concern for the required blood draws, and proud to potentially make a difference as the pandemic drags on.

“I think that it could really benefit the world, and I think it could also help scientists know more about the coronavirus,” Abhinav, whose family declined to share their last name, told NBC News.

Pfizer is the first company in the U.S. to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration to test their vaccine on kids aged 12 and up, and one of the testing sites, at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, has since given out doses to 100 children. The kids get two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which has had no adverse effects in their adult volunteers so far, three weeks apart. The participants do not know if they are given a placebo or the vaccine, but either way, the researchers will monitor them to look for any symptoms for the next two years.

Katelyn Evans gets a shot for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine trial
| Credit: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Katelyn Evans, a 16-year-old also enrolled at Cincinnati Children’s, said that she was initially concerned about the possible symptoms, but hasn’t had any issues so far.

“They were talking about symptoms, and they were just fatigue, low-grade fever, headache. I was thinking, ‘I hope I don’t have anything like that because I don’t want it to mess with school or work,’” she said. “But I wasn’t thinking about my permanent health for a short-term inconvenience.”

“It’s really not scary,” Evans added. “There’s nothing dangerous or intimidating about it.”

One child enrolled in the trial developed a low-grade fever, said Dr. Robert Frenck, who is running the trial at Cincinnati Children’s, but was fine after taking ibuprofen. Otherwise, none of the children have developed symptoms.

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Frenck said that it was important to get kids involved in the vaccine trials because they are also contracting COVID-19. On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that nearly 800,000 kids have tested positive for the virus, and new cases have jumped 14 percent in the last two weeks.

"I think the important thing people need to remember is that while adolescents aren't getting as sick as older adults are, it doesn't mean that some kids aren't getting sick and some kids aren't dying," Frenck told CNN. “We’ve had 120 kids in the U.S. die from COVID so far.”

Abhinav at Cincinnati Children's Hospital
| Credit: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Evans and Abhinav hope that other kids will sign up for the trials.

"I think everyone at my school would like to get back to normal," Abhinav told CNN. "I really think a vaccine could prevent the spread of the infection. As of now, I probably would request other kids to maybe take it."

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