Children’s of Alabama approved as new COVID-19 vaccine study site for young children

Children's of Ala. approved as vaccine study site

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Children’s of Alabama has been approved as a COVID-19 vaccine study site for young children.

Families who enroll their child or children in the study would help researchers figure out what doses are needed for young children to have COVID-19 protection. Pfizer recently completed research on children from 12-15 years old, and now vaccine companies are looking at what’s needed to give a vaccine safely to someone even younger.

“People have this misconception that children are not really sick or not many children get infected - which is true to a certain extent. But here at Children’s we’ve seen many people who get admitted to the hospital,” said Dr. Suresh Boppana, Professor Pediatrics at UAB.

Boppana has seen the impact of COVID-19 on young children and has worked to bring critical vaccine research to the hospital.

The site is now an approved COVID-19 vaccine study site for both Pfizer and Moderna, and he expects doctors can begin study trials with interested families within the next few weeks. Dr. Boppana says the hospital is still working through logistics needed to activate the site, but expects to begin with Moderna.

“2 parts - part 1 would be finding the right dose for children they would be testing,” said Boppana.

He says the study would group children between the ages of 11 and 6 months old in subset groups based on their age. Researchers would start with the older children and give smaller doses of vaccines first and then higher doses to ensure safety, but also measure what’s needed to protect children from COVID-19.

Phase two would bring in more children to receive the vaccine to measure protection once doctors figure out the appropriate dose. Phase two would be conducted as a placebo-controlled study where the families and doctors wouldn’t know if the child got the actual vaccine, or if the child received a placebo vaccine to study the impact without bias. Boppana says it’s likely designed as a 3 to 1 study where for every 3 children who get the vaccine 1 will get the placebo.

Boppana says the research would involve multiple doctors visits and health screenings to monitor your child’s health once. His message to parents considering this option, but weighing concerns.

“I can understand their concern. So far we haven’t seen anything,” said Boppana. “That’s the reason that Moderna and Pfizer are taking it slow.”

Boppana says the risk isn’t 0 percent, but said if he had children young enough to participate he would enroll them.

Children’s has already started reaching out to local pediatricians to connect with families interested in enrolling. Iff you are interested, you can also email Boppana at sboppana@uab.edu.

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