Huntsville doctor discusses coronavirus vaccine clinical trials underway for kids

Right now, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are conducting clinical trials for kids 12 and up.

Posted: Mar 8, 2021 6:17 PM
Updated: Mar 8, 2021 7:04 PM

Right now, kids are not eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, but even if they were, only teens over 16 could get the Pfizer vaccine.

That's because the FDA has not authorized the use of the other vaccines for younger kids.

"I think it's important that the children be vaccinated," Mike Ward said.

Ward is a grandfather. He would do anything to keep one-year-old Sam safe.

Ward has already gotten his two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, so he's comfortable with letting Sam get it once approved by health care providers. Still, he, like many other parents and grandparents, has some doubts.

"Certainly, you have concerns about its safety any time something is new," Ward said.

Huntsville Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Ali Hassoun says people shouldn't worry. He says children are considered a special group, which means they have to meet a special criteria to enroll them to a clinical trial. He adds that children are considered to be more vulnerable, which is why it takes a bit longer for their coronavirus vaccines to be approved.

Right now, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are conducting clinical trials for kids 12 and up. The goal is to learn what the appropriate dose is for kids in that age group.

Pfizer and Moderna expect to release data this summer. If the FDA clears the results, kids could start getting their vaccine once supply allows. Meanwhile, Johnson and Johnson's CEO says its vaccine may be available to kids 12 and up by September.

Dr. Hassoun says parents should not worry about the safety of the vaccines once authorized by regulators, because the purpose of the trial is to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective for your kids.

"In general, when we look at the trials in vaccination, if it's that much safe in adults, it will be safe in children." Dr. Hassoun explained. "Millions of patients have gotten the vaccination, and the safety profile of the ones approved in the U.S. has shown it's safe with no significant issues. They're going to do the same thing for kids, where they follow them and they're going to make sure there are no issues."

He adds it's important to vaccinate your kids against coronavirus, because even though children are considered to be at a low risk, they can still transmit the virus.

"We know the children can be a vehicle of transmission, and the only way of controlling the pandemic is people, not just adults. It's got to be all populations get immunity, and the best way of getting immunity is by vaccination," Dr. Hassoun said.

Clinical trials for kids under 11 are expected to begin later this year.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says teens may get their first shots as soon as this fall, while younger kids might have to wait until next year to get their vaccine.

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