Pfizer child vaccine trial launches with twins' vaccinations at Duke Human Vaccine Institute

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Thursday, March 25, 2021
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Twins Marisol and Alejandra Gerardo are Pfizer's very first vaccine trial participants. They received either the placebo or the real thing at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Vaccinating young children is on its way as Pfizer joined Moderna in beginning vaccine trials for kids.

Pfizer officially launched its trial for kids ages 5-11 years old Wednesday. Nine-year-old twins Marisol and Alejandra Gerardo are Pfizer's very first participants in the nation. They received either the placebo or the real thing at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.

"We'll start with a lower dose level and gradually escalate up. All the kids will receive two doses of vaccine," said Dr. Emanuel Walter, Duke Human Vaccine Institute.

Finding the correct dose is the first phase of a multiple-phase trial.

"They are looking at safety and finding that dose that is safe, but also illicit an immune response, then expanding to more children," said Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, Lurie Children's Hospital.

Heald-Sargent anticipates the results of COVID vaccine children trials will be similar to adult trials. While Lurie is not participating in the Pfizer trial, it will be signing up kids for the Moderna trial.

"Both Pfizer and Moderna have listed their target enrollments as less than 10,000," Heald-Sargent said. "We know for the adult trials there were tens of thousands involved."

Because children under the age of 18 account for almost a quarter of the population in the United States, doctors say vaccinating children is necessary to achieve herd immunity, especially since it's assumed they are a source of transmission.

And as adults get vaccinated, many children hope their turn will come soon.

"Definitely, because I really want to go back to the way things are without the masks because these are really annoying and they really hurt your ears," said Taylor Freese, 11.

Buffalo Grove mom Katie Freese said she will definitely get her two kids vaccinated.

"Oh, I'm really anxious, I can't wait for then to get vaccinated and start getting back to their normal lives," she said. "I would love for them to get vaccinated tomorrow if possible."

The results of the Pfizer trial are expected in the second half of 2021. The company hopes to start vaccinating children at the beginning of next year.